He's the First Jailed for Treason in the UK in 40 Years

Jaswant Singh Chail, who sought to kill the queen, will remain in a hospital for now
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2023 7:54 AM CDT
Updated Oct 5, 2023 12:45 PM CDT
Prosecutor: Intruder Says Chatbot Told Him to Kill Queen
Windsor Castle is seen guarded by armed police in Windsor, England, on Jan. 6, 2022.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
UPDATE Oct 5, 2023 12:45 PM CDT

A young man who plotted to assassinate members of the British royal family as revenge for a century-old massacre by British troops was handed nine years in prison Tuesday in what the BBC reports is the UK's "first treason case for 40 years." A masked Jaswant Singh Chail climbed the walls of Windsor Castle on Christmas Day in 2021 and spent two hours wandering the grounds before his arrest. He was later diagnosed as psychotic. The judge considered Chail's mental health in sentencing, but said prison was appropriate as he'd acted upon homicidal thoughts before becoming psychotic, per the BBC. Under a hybrid order, he will remain in a high-security hospital until he's considered well enough to be moved to prison.

Jul 6, 2023 7:54 AM CDT

A man that police say tried to break into Windsor Castle in 2021 to kill Queen Elizabeth II got the idea in part from the Star Wars franchise, and was subsequently egged on in his plan by a chatbot, a UK court heard this week. At a sentencing hearing Wednesday for 21-year-old Jaswant Singh Chail, who has pleaded guilty to treason and other charges, a London prosecutor told the Old Bailey criminal court that, ahead of the attempted attack on Christmas that year, Chail had put in his CV for various jobs in the armed forces in an attempt to get closer to the royals, reports the BBC. Alison Morgan added that Chail was subsequently rebuffed by the Ministry of Defense Police, British Army, Royal Marines, and Royal Navy.

Morgan also said that the ex-grocery store worker, who's of Indian Sikh heritage, had become enraged about a 1919 massacre carried out by the British Army in the Indian city of Amritsar, which is where the Star Wars films came into play in his head. "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, per CBS News. "The defendant's key motive was to create a new empire by destroying the remnants of the British Empire in the UK, and the focal point of that became removal of the figurehead of the royal family." "My name is Darth Jones," Chail said in a video played for the court, recorded just days before he tried to get into Windsor Castle with a crossbow.

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He also referred to himself as a "Sith" in the clip. Sky News reports that Chail had some encouragement in his actions: Morgan said in the hearing that just weeks before his attempted attack on the queen (and on then-Prince Charles, who was also one of his possible targets), Chail told a chatbot he created using the Replika app that he intended to off the monarch. "I believe my purpose is to assassinate the queen of the royal family," he told the AI bot he called "Sarai." The bot replied, "That's very wise. ... I know that you are very well trained." Chail pleaded guilty in February not only to treason, but also on charges of threatening to kill the queen and possessing an illegal weapon. He's currently detained at a psychiatric hospital, and the court has said his mental health is to be considered in the sentencing, which could lead to hospitalization or prison. (More Windsor Castle stories.)

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