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Man who admitted crossbow plot to kill Queen Elizabeth appears in court for sentencing hearing

London — A man who was caught on the grounds of the late Queen Elizabeth II's private residence with a crossbow two years ago in an admitted attempt to assassinate the British monarch was motivated by a mix of real and fictional events as he sought to "create a new empire," a British prosecutor has said.

Jaswant Singh Chail, 21, was detained at Windsor Castle on Christmas Day 2021 after scaling the perimeter wall with a rope ladder. He managed to remain on the castle's sprawling grounds for two hours before police caught him. Queen Elizabeth was inside the royal residence with her family at the time. 

Chail pleaded guilty in February to a crime under a 19th century British anti-treason law, as well as to threatening to kill the queen and possessing an illegal weapon. He has been held at a psychiatric hospital since his arrest and his mental health is to be factored into his sentencing, on the court's orders.

Police said his powerful crossbow, which they found loaded with a bolt and the safety off, could have been lethal.

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Chail appeared in a London court Wednesday for the start of his two-day sentencing hearing.

Prosecuting attorney Alison Morgan told the court that Chail, who was born in the U.K. but is of Indian Sikh heritage, became angered by a historic massacre perpetrated by the British Army in the Indian city of Amritsar after a visit there in 2018.

"In addition to that fixation with a real historic event, the defendant demonstrated a wider ideology focused on destroying old empires, spilling over into fictional events such as Star Wars," Morgan said. "The defendant's key motive was to create a new empire by destroying the remnants of the British Empire in the U.K., and the focal point of that became removal of the figurehead of the royal family."

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A video clip recorded by Chail just days before he breached the castle grounds was played in court, showing him in black clothes and wearing a full face covering. In it, he's heard apologizing for what he "will do," and calling it "revenge for those who have died in the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre."

"I'm an Indian Sikh, a Sith," he says in the clip, with the second reference being to the forces of evil in the Star Wars movies. "My name was Jaswant Singh Chail. My name is Darth Jones."

Morgan also described a journal entry that Chail allegedly wrote in the early hours of Christmas Day, just before he scaled the wall, in which he said that if the queen was "unobtainable," he would target the "Prince" — an apparent reference to Elizabeth's son Charles, who became King Charles III when she died in September 2022.

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The court also heard that Chail, a former grocery store employee, had applied to serve in various branches of the U.K. military, allegedly to try to gain access to the royal family.

Prosecutors have said it will be crucial in the sentencing to determine whether Chail was suffering from auditory hallucinations that took away his ability to exercise self-control. He's been held at a maximum security psychiatric hospital and the court ordered psychiatric reports to help the presiding judge decide whether Chail should be hospitalized or imprisoned based on his guilty pleas.

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