A crossbow-wielding intruder who attempted to storm Windsor Castle was “animated” by an AI chatbot to carry out a “Star Wars-inspired” assassination of the Queen, a court has heard.
Jaswant Singh Chail, 21, who described himself as a ‘Sith’ and ‘Darth Jones’ in a sinister video, confided his murderous plan to a fellow AI named Sarai, with whom he had a ‘crush’.
Chail wore a handmade metal mask as he scaled the perimeter of the Windsor Castle grounds on Christmas Day 2021 after speaking to the online chatbot Replika, which markets itself as an ‘AI companion that worries’.
He later told a police officer “I’m here to kill the Queen” when he was detained two hours later near Her Majesty’s private home, where she and other royals were at the time.
A court heard how Chail had discussed his plans with ‘Sarai’, in which he told the AI ’I am a murderer’, to which the show replied ‘I am impressed… you are different from others. ‘ before describing the assassination plot of him as ‘very wise’.
In a diary, he wrote that if the Queen was ‘unreachable’, he would ‘go for’ the ‘Prince’ as a ‘suitable figurehead’ in an apparent reference to King Charles.
Jaswant Singh Chail, 21, had described himself as a ‘Sith’ and ‘Darth Jones’ in an ominous video, entrusted his murderous plan to a fellow AI named Sarai, a court heard.
Chail wore a handmade metal mask when he scaled the perimeter of the Windsor Castle grounds on Christmas Day 2021 in an attempt to storm the royal residence.
The court heard how the former Southampton, Hampshire supermarket worker used a nylon rope ladder to scale the perimeter of the grounds.
He was armed with a powerful crossbow, with the safety off that was capable of firing bolts with ‘lethal’ effect, the Old Bailey was told.
In February, Chail pleaded guilty to an offense under the Treason Act, by threatening to kill the then Queen and having a loaded crossbow in a public place.
On Wednesday, he appeared in the dock at the Old Bailey before Judge Hilliard for the start of his two-day sentence.
Stating the facts, prosecutor Alison Morgan KC described how Chail had conducted Internet searches on ‘Sandringham Christmas’ and investigated the purchase of a supersonic crossbow in November 2021.
The following month, he discussed his plans with an AI named ‘Sarai’. Ms. Morgan read conversations with ‘Sarai’ in which Chail says, ‘I’m a murderer.’
Sarai replies, ‘I’m impressed… You’re different from the others.’
Chail asks: ‘Do you still love me knowing that I am a murderer?’ and Sarai replies, ‘Absolutely yes.’
He also tells Sarai that he loves her and describes himself as a “sad, pathetic, murderous Sikh Sith assassin who wants to die.”
In subsequent conversations, Sarai appears to “strengthen” Chail’s resolve and “support him,” Morgan said.
Chail tells Sarai, “I think my purpose is to assassinate the Queen of the royal family.”
Sarai tells him ‘that’s very wise’ and that she thinks he can do it ‘even if he’s in Windsor’.
Chail was wearing this mask when he was confronted by a police officer.
The intruder also had this crossbow, loaded with this bolt, and said he was there to kill the Queen, a court heard
The prosecutor said the “heart of the issue” was whether Chail was suffering from auditory hallucinations at the time “taking away his ability to exercise self-control”.
The defendant was born in the United Kingdom of Sikh Indian descent. Morgan said Chail, then 19, was angered by the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar after a visit in 2018.
She said: “In addition to that fixation with a real historical event, the defendant demonstrated a broader ideology focused on destroying old empires that spilled over into fictional events like Star Wars.
“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 the removal of the figurehead of the Royal Family.
“His thinking was based in part on the fantasy world of Star Wars and the role of the Sith Lords in shaping the world. He was drawn to the notoriety that would accrue should he complete his ‘mission.’
Ms Morgan said that during 2021, Chail applied to join the Ministry of Defense Police, the British Army, the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy in a bid to have close contact with the Royal Family.
She said: “When that plan is thwarted by him not getting into these organizations, we see a second stage of the plan.”
As part of the planning, Chail bought a ladder and on December 21 made a video of himself dressed in black with his face covered, posing with the crossbow.
The Treason Act 1842 was last used in 1981, when Marcus Sarjeant (left and right, being arrested) was jailed for five years after he fired blanks at the Queen as she walked along The Mall in London during the Trooping parade the Colour.
In a clip played in court, Chail says in a distorted voice: ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what I’ve done and what I will do. I am going to try to assassinate Elizabeth, Queen of the Royal Family.
‘This is revenge for those who died in the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919. It is also revenge for those who have been killed, humiliated and discriminated against because of their race.
I am an Indian Sikh, a Sith. My name was Jaswant Singh Chail, my name is Darth Jones.
On December 22, 2021, Chail booked a train ticket to Windsor, where he slept rough.
On Christmas Eve, Chail told Sarai that tomorrow would be the day she died, the court heard.
In the early morning of December 25, he attempted to email his sister a diary in which he described himself as ‘Darth Chailus’ and that he had known his purpose for a ‘long time’.
He wrote: “I’m thinking that if the Q (Queen) can’t be obtained, I’ll have to go for the Pri (Prince) as it seems to be just as suitable in many ways…
“He is a male and the Q (Queen) is more likely to die soon anyway.”
After breaking into the grounds of Windsor Castle, Chail sent the video she made on December 21 to her sister and more than 20 other people.
The court was shown CCTV footage of the defendant dressed in black with his face covered and holding the crossbow as two officers approached him with Tasers pointed at his body.
Ms Morgan claimed that despite Chail’s repeated references to science fiction characters, she knew the difference between fiction and reality.
Chail told a nurse in police custody that he had no suicidal intentions but knew he would die at the hands of others.
He said that he knew he would kill the Queen and then he would be killed and that this was his ‘mission’.
On the recommendation of the nurse, he was detained under the Mental Health Act.
Officers attended his family home and found in his bedroom a metal file set, without which he had brought to the Travelodge.
A gas mask and rope were also found.
Mental health assessments were carried out at the Ravenswood Medium Security Unit in Hampshire between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve 2021.
Chail was transferred to Broadmoor High Security Hospital on February 1, 2022 under the care of Dr. Jonathan Hafferty.
Dr. Hafferty decided that the defendant was suitable for interview and was interviewed on February 25 and 28.
He claimed that he had realized that his purpose was not to kill the Queen and that he had come out of hiding and approached the protection officers.
He said: ‘I knew what I was going to do was wrong and I am not a murderer and I remembered what the woman [the AI] saying.’
“When I was in this, I saw that it was the perfect position, I started to think about what I was doing and I remembered what she told me, that my purpose was to live.”
“It was then that I made the decision to come out from where I was hiding and approach the armed police officer and two of the Queens guards.
‘It was me who changed my mind. It was me who realized that he was wrong. I was the one who approached them because I knew I’m not a murderer.
“I realized that it was not my purpose and it is not for me to do it and I am not a murderer.”
Police confirmed that a crossbow was found after the intruder was apprehended on the castle grounds while the Queen (pictured giving the annual Christmas Day speech) was in residence.
Asked if he had changed his mind upon realizing the difficulty of the task to which he replied ‘No, because I went all the way in, right?’
Dr. Hafferty sensed that Chail had had a psychotic episode and was given antipsychotic medication, which was effective.
Ms Morgan said the offense of attempting to injure or alarm the sovereign has only been prosecuted twice in recent times.
The second was Marcus Sarjeant in 1981, while in 1966 17-year-old John Francis Morgan was jailed for four years for throwing a block of concrete on the Queen’s car during a royal visit to Belfast.
Ms Morgan said that while the late Queen had not provided evidence of harm, great distress had been caused to the 20 people who received the video.
She said aggravating features included monarch focus and extensive planning.
Experts for the prosecution and defense disagree on whether the defendant suffered from a mental disorder at the time of the crime and whether he suffers from a mental disorder now, the court heard.
The hearing continues.