On the evening of 12 January 2018, emergency services received a call reporting two adults seriously wounded inside their home in the tiny village of Southburn in East Yorkshire, England. As they raced to the address they learned the suspect in the attack was their next-door neighbor, a man who had gained access to their property by removing the adjoining wall in the loft space that separated their semi-detached homes.
30-year-old Shane Gilmer had been shot with a crossbow and was found with life-threatening injuries. Rushed to nearby Hull Royal Infirmary, he died in hospital the following morning. His pregnant girlfriend, 27-year-old Laura Sugden was also injured in the attack and taken to the hospital. Both she and her unborn baby are reported to be stable.
According to news reports, their neighbour, 55-year-old Anthony Lawrence, carried out the attack after sneaking inside their house through an adjoining wall in the loft space between their two homes. It is believed Lawrence removed the wall before tidying up any mess in order to hide what he had done, allowing him free access into their house. It is not known when Lawrence removed this wall and how many times he may have crept in to watch the couple.
Hull Daily News reported the police manhunt for Lawrence, warning the shocked residents of Southburn that he was believed to be nearby and his response to being approached was unpredictable. For two days police hunted the area and followed any leads looking for Lawrence, who was now wanted for murder and attempted murder.
Anthony Lawrence had previously argued with the couple when he complained about noise, according to the Daily Mail, with one neighbour commenting Lawrence had threatened them with an axe during the incident.
Disputes with neighbors are sadly a common cause of crime and violence. Investigation Discovery has a long-running true-crime series in the US focusing solely on the often brutal crimes between neighbors entitled “Fear Thy Neighbor”. Back in the UK, there have been a number of high-profile cases in recent years which have ended in murder. In December 2014, 45-year-old Alison Morrison was stabbed to death by her neighbour, 48-year-old Trevor Gibbon, in Harrow, north-east London after a long-standing dispute over noise ending in Gibbons being issued a restraining order the day before the murder.
In Bristol four years earlier, 25-year-old Joanna Yeates was murdered by her neighbour, 32-year-old Vincent Tabek. Yates disappeared on 17 December 2010 and her body found on Christmas Day, 3 miles away in Failand, Somerset. Buried in the snow, an autopsy revealed she had been strangled during a long fight for her life before being removed from her flat and dumped in a narrow lane. Police believe Tabek may have been watching Yates for some time. DNA evidence linked Tabek to the crime and he pleaded guilty to manslaughter at Bristol Crown Court in September 2011. He was found guilty of murder and jailed for life to serve a minimum of 20 years in prison.
After police hunted Anthony Lawrence for almost 48 hours, appealing for him to hand himself over to police, a camper van was reported abandoned in a layby near Scarborough. When police investigated on 14 January they discovered the body of Anthony Lawrence inside, bringing their manhunt to an end. His death is still under investigation but it is expected to be ruled as suicide.
His anger, it seems, pushed him into a callous and cold-blooded act of revenge which has taken one life and seriously damaged the life of another. Detective Chief Inspector Stewart Miller said in a press conference, “Our inquiries into this tragic murder investigation continue.”