Man fired crossbow at Rotherham vicar

Rev Sue Hobley
Rev Sue Hobley
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A vicar cowered behind a gravestone in fear for her life when a drunken yob fired a crossbow at her from the church roof.

David Wood, aged 20, raised the crossbow and aimed at the Reverend Sue Hobley, vicar of All Saints’ Church in Wath-upon-Dearne, leaving her ‘terrified’, Sheffield Crown Court was told yesterday.

Wood sobbed in the dock as he was jailed for eight months.

Peter Hampton, prosecuting, said Mrs Hobley and her husband Michael Byrne, heard the church roof alarm sounding in the early hours of Sunday, April 7, and went to investigate.

Mr Hampton said: “She looked up to the roof of the church and on the porch was Wood looking directly at her.

“He was behind the ramparts.

“Mrs Hobley shouted at him to come down and he picked up what later transpired to be a crossbow.

“She thought it was a gun.

“He is described as raising it in front of his face and aiming directly at her.

“She was terrified and thought she was going to be shot.”

The couple took cover, Mrs Hobley behind a gravestone.

Mr Hampton said: “Wood continued to aim at her – she was looking away to try and avoid inflaming the situation.

“Then they both heard a bang – the crossbow had been fired.

The pair fled to the church hall, locked themselves in and called police.

Wood was talked down from the roof at gunpoint by armed police.

Wood, of Campsall Field Road, Wath-upon-Dearne, admitted affray.

Michael Slater, mitigating, said he was a ‘vulnerable and thoughtful young man’ of good character and his behaviour was a ‘cry for help’.

He said Wood was caring for his dying grandmother and couldn’t cope.

Sentencing, Judge Simon Lawler QC said: “I would be failing in my public duty by not imposing a custodial sentence. Your actions that night were thoroughly reckless and terrifying.”