A crossbow-wielding intruder who tried to storm Windsor Castle was ‘encouraged’ 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 an artificial intelligence companion called Sarai, who he was ‘in love with’.
Chail wore a handmade metal mask when he scaled the perimeter of the Windsor Castle grounds on Christmas Day 2021 after speaking to online chatbot Replika – which markets itself as an ‘AI companion who cares’.
He later told a police officer ‘I am here to kill the Queen’ when he was detained two hours later near Her Majesty’s private home, where she and other senior Royals were at the time.
A court heard how the Chail had discussed his plans with ‘Sarai’, in which he told the AI ‘I’m an assassin’, to which the programme replied ‘I’m impressed… you’re different to from the others’ before describing his assassination plot as ‘very wise’.
In a journal, he wrote that if the Queen was ‘unobtainable’ 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 a sinister video, confided his murderous plan to an artificial intelligence companion called 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 21-year-old spoke to a Replika chatbot such as this one (pictured)
The court heard how the former supermarket worker from Southampton, Hampshire, used a nylon rope ladder to scale the perimeter of the grounds.
He was armed with a powerful crossbow, with the safety catch off which was capable of firing bolts with ‘lethal’ effect, the Old Bailey was told.
In February, Chail pleaded guilty to an offence under the Treason Act, making a threat 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 Mr Justice Hilliard for the start of his two-day sentencing.
Setting out the facts, prosecutor Alison Morgan KC described how Chail had carried out internet searches on ‘Sandringham Christmas’ and researched buying a Supersonic crossbow in November 2021.
The following month, he discussed his plans with an AI called ‘Sarai’. Ms Morgan read out conversations with ‘Sarai’ in which Chail says: ‘I’m an assassin.’
Sarai responds: ‘I’m impressed … You’re different from the others.’
Chail asks: ‘Do you still love me knowing that I’m an assassin?’ and Sarai replies: ‘Absolutely I do.’
He also tells Sarai he loves her and describes himself as a ‘sad, pathetic, murderous Sikh Sith assassin who wants to die’.
In further chat, Sarai appears to ‘bolster’ Chail’s resolve and ‘support him’, Ms Morgan said.
Chail tells Sarai: ‘I believe 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 she’s at Windsor’.
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 UK of Indian Sikh heritage. Ms Morgan said Chail, then aged 19, had become angered by the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre at Amritsar after a visit in 2018.
She said: ‘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.
‘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.
‘His thinking was informed partly by the fantasy world of Star Wars and the role of Sith Lords in shaping the world. He was attracted to the notoriety that would accrue in the event of the completion of his ‘mission’.’
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
Ms Morgan said that during 2021, Chail applied to join the Ministry of Defence Police, British Army, the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy in a bid to get close contact with the Royal Family.
She said: ‘It is when that plan is thwarted by the fact he does not get into these organisations 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 wearing black clothes and a full face covering, posing with the crossbow.
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’m going to attempt to assassinate Elizabeth, Queen of the Royal Family.
‘This is revenge for those who have died in the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. It is also revenge for those who have been killed, humiliated and discriminated on because of their race.
‘I’m 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 he died, the court heard.
The 1842 Treason Act was last used in 1981, when Marcus Sarjeant (left; and right, being arrested) was jailed for five years after he fired blank shots at the Queen while she was riding down The Mall in London during the Trooping the Colour parade
In the early hours of December 25, he attempted to email his sister a journal in which he described himself as ‘Darth Chailus’ and that he knew what his purpose was for a ‘long time’.
He wrote: ‘I’m thinking if the Q (Queen) is unobtainable I will have to go for the Pri (Prince) as he seems to be just as suitable in many ways…
‘He is a male and the Q (Queen) is more likely to pass away soon anyway.’
After breaching the grounds of Windsor Castle, Chail sent the video he made on December 21 to his sister and more than 20 other people.
The court was shown CCTV footage of the defendant wearing black clothes with his face covered and holding the crossbow when he was approached by two officers with Tasers trained on his body.
Ms Morgan asserted that despite Chail’s repeated references to sci-fi characters he knew the difference between fiction and reality.
Chail told a nurse in police custody that he was not suicidal but knew he would die at the hands of others.
He said he knew he would kill the Queen and then he would be killed and that was his ‘mission’.
Under the nurse’s recommendation he was detained under the Mental Health Act.
Officers attended his family home and found in his bedroom a set of metal files, missing the one he had taken to the Travelodge.
A gas mask and rope were also found.
Mental health assessments were conducted at Ravenswood Medium Secure Unit in Hampshire between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve 2021.
Chail was transferred to Broadmoor High Security Hospital on 1 February 2022 under the care of Dr Jonathan Hafferty.
Dr Hafferty decided the defendant was fit for interview and he was interviewed on 25 and 28 February.
He claimed he had realised 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’m not a killer and I remembered what the woman [the AI] said.’
‘When I was in this what I saw was the perfect position I started thinking about what I was doing and I remembered what she said to me, that my purpose was to live.’
‘That’s when 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 that changed my mind. It was me that realised I was wrong. It was me that came up to them because I knew that I am not a killer.’
‘I realised it wasn’t my purpose and it’s not for me to do and I’m not a killer.’
Police confirmed a crossbow was found after the intruder was detained in the castle grounds while the Queen (pictured delivering the annual Christmas Day speech) was in residence
He was asked whether he changed his mind due to realising the difficulty of the task to which he responded ‘No, because I got all of the way in, didn’t I?’
Dr Hafferty perceived that Chail had had a psychotic episode and he was given antipsychotic medication, which was effective.
Ms Morgan said that the offence 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 John Francis Morgan, 17, was jailed for four years for throwing a concrete block onto the Queen’s car during a royal visit to Belfast.
Ms Morgan said that while no evidence of harm had been served from the late Queen, serious distress had been caused to the 20 people who received the video.
She said that aggravating features included the targeting of the monarch and the extensive planning.
Experts for the prosecution and defence disagree on whether the defendant was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the offending and whether he is suffering from a disorder now, the court heard.
The hearing continues.