Jaswant Singh Chail, the man who attempted to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II with a crossbow on Christmas Day in 2021, has finally been sentence.
On Thursday, October 5, Chail was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for treason, making him the first person to be found culpable for the offence in the UK in over 40 years. He was also sentenced for making threats to kill and being in possession of an offensive weapon.
On Christmas Day of 2021, Chai scaled the west wall of Windsor Castle, carrying a crossbow and dressed in a mask and dark clothes. He spent two hours on the grounds of the castle but surrendered immediately when confronted by police. As he was arrested, Chai said to police “I am here to kill the Queen”.
The late Queen Elizabeth was staying at the castle alongside the future King Charles and other close family members at the time. During sentencing, Judge Nicholas Hilliard said Chail should be detained in Broadmoor psychiatric hospital before being sent to prison.
Chail, who is of Indian Sikh descent, claimed that he attempted the assassination as revenge for 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre (also known as the Amritsar massacre). During this historical incident, colonial British troops in northwest India fired upon and killed nearly 400 Sikhs who were protesting against colonial rule.
Upon psychiatric assessment, it became evident that Chail was suffering from a psychotic episode when he attempted the act and his intentions were not political. However, he was still found to be partially culpable for his actions as he conceived of the plot while legally sound of mind.
According to Judge Hillaird, Chail had “lost touch with reality such that he had become psychotic” by the time he entered Windsor Castle. However, the judge also said that “the defendant harboured homicidal thoughts which he acted on before he became psychotic”.
Chail is now subject to a hybrid order under the Mental Health Act. He will be given psychiatric treatment to resolve his mental issues after which he will serve the remainder of his sentence in prison.
In the lead-up to the attempt, he reportedly released a video to his family before the attempt, where he referred to himself as a “Sith” from the Star Wars franchise. He appeared to have adopted the alias of “Darth Chailus” in the same video.
The assassination attempt was thought to be partially spurred by his use of the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot program Replika, which he used to create a virtual girlfriend called “Sarai”. When messaging “Sarai” about his intentions, the AI did not discourage Chail from attempting the assassination. Instead, it said that he was “very wise”.
If you or anyone you know needs help: Lifeline — 13 11 14; MensLine Australia — 1300 789 978; BeyondBlue — 1300 224 636; Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467; Headspace — 1800 650 890; Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800.