UPDATED: Aylesbury man ‘executed’ with crossbow over £6,000 drug debt, court hears

Darrell Farnham
Darrell Farnham

An Aylesbury man ‘executed’ with a crossbow bolt shot into his heart managed to pull it out of his chest before dying, a jury heard yesterday (Monday).

Prosecutors say Russell Gill used the ‘medieval-style’ weapon to kill his former landlord Darrell Farnham, 44, on the doorstep of the Belgrave Road home they once shared.

Police at murder scene in Belgrave Road, Aylesbury

Police at murder scene in Belgrave Road, Aylesbury

Mr Gill, 42, killed Mr Farnham over a £6,000 drug debt, Reading Crown Court was told.

However, he denies murder and says the shooting was an accident.

Alan Blake told the jury Mr Gill had cycled from his Lavender Walk house to Mr Farnham’s home armed with a crossbow, two bolts and a Samurai sword late on June 23.

Mr Blake said: “Darrell Farnham answered a knock at the door of his property.

Police at Belgrave Road in Aylesbury - Re: Body found

Police at Belgrave Road in Aylesbury - Re: Body found

“Stood at the door was this defendant Russell Gill. He owed money to Darrell Farnham, money the defendant says he owed to Mr Farnham for a drug debt that Mr Farnham was trying to recover from him.

“The defendant stood on the doorstep armed with a loaded crossbow.

“There was a heated exchange of words before this defendant fired that crossbow, releasing a bolt that entered Darrell Farnham’s chest and penetrated his heart.

“Mr Farnham pushed the door shut before collapsing to the ground.

Police at murder scene in Belgrave Road, Aylesbury

Police at murder scene in Belgrave Road, Aylesbury

“It seems from the evidence, he succeeded in pulling the bolt out of his chest but he never got up again.

“There was no exit wound in Mr Farnham’s back and no bolt in Mr Farnham’s body, but there was a damaged crossbow bolt near to his outstretched hand.

“The defendant contends the firing of the crossbow and the death of Mr Farnham was a terrible accident.

“The Crown says the contrary. This defendant fired that weapon at direct range into Mr Farnham’s chest in a successful and premeditated attempt to kill Mr Farnham, a man who he had grown to hate.

“It was an execution carried out with a medieval style weapon.”

Mr Blake told the jury Mr Gill has admitted manslaughter but denies murder.

He said: “Whatever the background, whatever the rights and wrongs in the dispute between these two men, the Crown says there can be no justification to seek to resolve that dispute by the means of a bolt through the heart.

“It is not in dispute he attended Mr Farnham’s address to threaten him with a crossbow.

“He was to claim in due course in speaking to police he was only there to threaten Mr Farnham to relieve the pressure on him from that debt.

“The crossbow, he said, went off because Mr Farnham’s crossbreed mongrel dog Princess attacked him, causing an accidental discharge.

“His actions after the shooting are, the Crown says, telling.

“Rather than offering assistance or seeking help after the claimed accidental discharge of the crossbow, Mr Gill walked off through Mr Farnham’s garden in Belgrave Road, Aylesbury, returning to kick the door and shout before dropping the weapon off at his sister’s house opposite Mr Farnham’s house.”

The prosecutor said Mr Farnham had been stock car racing earlier on the day he died and had won his first trophy.

He returned home around 7.30pm and had been sitting in his living room with his current lodger Jonathan Briggs recalling the day’s events.

The pair were joined by neighbour Darryl Gollop, who they ate dinner with before he left.

Prior to calling at Mr Farnham’s house, Mr Gill had eaten Sunday dinner at his home and been joined by a 15 year old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Mr Blake told the jury: “(The teenager) says Russell Gill had a conversation with him.

“He asked (the teen) whether he had heard Darrell Farnham had threatened to shoot him.

“(The teen) replied he had heard a rumour Darrell had wanted to shoot him in his knees and Russell looked scared.”

Mr Blake said Mr Gill showed the boy a crossbow in his garage.

The prosecutor said Mr Gill told the teen ‘if Darrell thinks he can get to me he is stupid.

“I’ll get to him first. This will kill him. If it doesn’t kill him, I’ll have to shoot him again’.

“Then he said ‘if it does not kill him, I’ll use this,’ then he pointed to a Samurai sword.”

Mr Blake said after the boy left to go home, Mr Gill cycled to Belgrave Road.

He said: “According to the defendant himself, he loaded that crossbow whilst outside Mr Farnham’s address.”

Lodger Mr Briggs realised there was a knock at the door and then heard shouting and both the defendant and victim swearing.

Another witness heard Mr Gill shout ‘nobody threatens me’ as he repeatedly kicked at the door after shooting his victim, the court heard.

Mr Blake said the dog chased Mr Gill out of the garden.

The prosecutor said: “He (Mr Briggs) heard the male shout, presumably for the benefit of the dog, ‘don’t make me shoot you, shut up’.”

Meanwhile, inside the house, Mr Farnham had collapsed from his injury and was bleeding heavily.

Lodger Mr Briggs called for an ambulance and performed CPR but Mr Farnham was dead within minutes.

Mr Blake said the bolt had gone eight inches into his body, penetrating his heart and shattering his spine.

Police found the crossbow, one bolt and the Samurai sword buried under an earth mound in the back garden of Mr Gill’s sister’s home the following day.

Mr Blake said the defendant had told his sister’s partner Kevin Smith that he had shot Mr Farnham in the shoulder.

Mr Smith alerted officers to the weapon in his back garden the day after the killing and Mr Gill was arrested.

Mr Blake said Mr Farnham had recently paid Mr Gill a visit and warned him that he and his family was in danger if he did not pay up.

The prosecutor added: “He said he had gone to Mr Farnham’s address with a crossbow, which he did not believe to work, to protect his children.

“The defendant stated he knocked Mr Farnham’s door and he intended to threaten him, but instead of being threatened by the weapon, Mr Farnham had been angered and grabbed a baseball bat. The dog then bit him and the crossbow went off.

“He told officers the deceased was a bully and he had come to his address to collect money.

“He originally owed £1,000, but that debt went up after some drugs he had looked after for Mr Farnham had been stolen in a break-in.”

The trial continues.