Jail sentence imposed for firing crossbow at neighbour’s house

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A former 30 joints a day Cannabis addict who fired two arrows from his crossbow at a neighbour’s house and hacked at his neighbour’s front door in a row over a £1,000 debt, has been jailed for 18 months.

Brian Gerald Forbes, 50, from Glenanne in the Brandywell area, pleaded guilty to threatening to kill his U.S. born neighbour; assaulting him; causing criminal damage to his property and guilty of possessing a crossbow with arrows and an axe on January 3, 2017.

Forbes will spend half of the sentence in custody and half on licence, but because he served nine months in custody he was released following his sentencing.

Derry Crown Court Judge Philip Babington also imposed a five years Restraining Order on Forbes banning him from entering within 400 metres of Glendara, and banning him from having any personal contact with his victim.

Judge Babington said it was necessary to impose the Order for the purpose of protecting the victim from any further contact which could amount to harassment or cause fear of violence.

Forbes carried out the crossbow and arrow and axe attack on his neighbour’s home at 7 a.m. He told his neighbour he was going to kill him and fired two arrows at the house, one of which lodged in a window frame and the second in the front door. Forbes then chopped at the front door with an axe up to 10 times.

The victim called the police and members of the PSNI’s armed response unit arrived at the scene.

After speaking with the victim they visited Forbes’s nearby home where they found the crossbow and arrows as well as the axe.

Forbes, who was a Cannabis addict at the time, told the police he wanted the attack to have a psychological effect on his neighbour.

The victim said the incident has left him worried, scared and frightened and in a Victim Impact Statement said his quality of life had been badly affected.

Judge Babington said Forbes had been assessed by three psychiatrists, all of whom agreed that Forbes had a mental abnormality.

One psychiatrist stated “the most appropriate diagnosis in this case is that this man has a Paranoid Psychotic Disorder arising from harmful use of Cannabis in recent years”.

A defence barrister said that Forbes’ culpability “had to be seen through the prism of his mental illness which was existing at the relevant time.”

Judge Babington said Forbes’ long term abuse of Cannabis might well have had something to do with the fact that his mental health has been adversely affected.

The judge said: “This case, indeed, shows the damage that Cannabis use can cause to an individual.”