Patient who attacked GP with crossbow jailed for 20 years

A patient who blamed his GP for the death of his father and shot him with a crossbow bolt in his surgery was jailed for 20 years on Friday.

(Photo: iStock.com/Michał Chodyra)
(Photo: iStock.com/Michał Chodyra)

Mark Waterfall carried out the attack on Dr Gary Griffith in an attempt to murder him four days after the death of his father in hospital

Before Mr Waterfall fired the metal tipped bolt, he told the doctor: ‘You killed my father and I am going to kill you.’

The 46-year-old then fired the bolt into the left side of the doctor’s abdomen as he sat at his desk in his consultation room at his surgery in Watford, Hertfordshire writing up his notes.

On Friday at St Albans crown court Judge Stephen Warner told Mr Waterfall: ‘You fired the bolt into his abdomen from a distance of about five feet. When you did you intended to kill him.’

‘It was pure good fortune that you didn’t succeed,’ the judge added.

During the trial the court heard that the bolt, which travelled at a speed of 187 feet per second, struck Dr Griffith in the left side of his stomach.

Dr Griffith survived because it was warm in the room and he had loosened his shirt around his waist that morning so that it was gathered up around his midriff. It meant the arrow had to pass through four layers of the doctor’s shirt and didn’t penetrate deep enough to kill him.

At Mr Waterfall’s trial which ended last month with a jury finding him guilty of attempted murder, the GP said he was able to pull the arrow from out of his stomach wall, telling the jury: ‘Although the wound was gaping, it hadn’t gone into the colon.’

He went on: ‘I had to pull the wound apart to check if it had gone into the bowel. I was still sitting down and I removed the bolt and put it on my desk. I pulled the wound apart to see how far it had gone in.’

As he did so, he said Mr Waterfall looked down at the floor 'dejected' and, realising he had failed to kill him, said: 'I can’t even get that right.'

Custodial sentence

Judge Warner sentenced Mr Waterfall to an extended 25-year jail sentence after concluding that he was a danger to the public and posed a risk of committing further offences. The judge said the custodial element of the sentence was 20 years of which he will have to serve two thirds behind bars before the parole board will decide if he is safe to be released.

Whenever that is Mr Waterfall from Oxhey in Hertfordshire will remain on licence until the year 2044.

The attack on the doctor took place on the morning of July 10 last year at the Suthergrey House Medical Centre in St Johns Road, Watford where Dr Griffith was a GP.

Before sentencing on Friday, a victim personal statement by Dr Griffith was read out in court. In the statement Dr Griffith said that he has suffered severe nightmares of being murdered since the incident and now no longer feels safe at work.

‘Going into work was a pleasure and a large part of my enjoyment and purpose in life. This one incident has destroyed all of those positive feelings about my workplace. I no longer feel safe,’ he said.

‘I worry about when Mr Waterfall is released as he clearly showed a great deal of patience and planning of the attack. I work a 12-hour day and there is only a 10-minute space in the whole day when someone could enter my room in this way, as after morning surgery, I write my notes of the last patient and then leave and lock the surgery.

'The fact that other patients witnessed Mr Waterfall waiting in the surgery until the last patient had left fills me with dread at the level of planning that went into the attack.’

Judge Warner praised the courage of Dr Griffith whose first thought had been to follow Mr Waterfall as he went back to his car in an attempt to try and persuade him to give himself up to the police.

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