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Doctor hit by crossbow bolt at Watford surgery

 Published on: 7th January 2019   |   By: Jason Allen   |   Category: Uncategorized

A doctor was in his consultation room writing up his notes when a patient came in armed with a crossbow and fired a bolt into his stomach, a court heard on Friday, 4th January.

Dr Gary Griffith said that before Mark Waterfall fired the metal tipped arrow, he told him: “You killed my father and I am going to kill you.”

The GP said he was able to pull the arrow from out of his stomach wall, telling a 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.”

Dr Griffith was giving evidence at St Albans crown court where 46 year old Mr Waterfall is on trial pleading not guilty to a charge of attempted murder.

It’s alleged that five days before the crossbow incident, the doctor had seen Mr Waterfall’s father Terrence at the surgery, who was complaining of “breathlessness.”

The doctor had arranged for him to attend Watford General Hospital, where he had died the following day.

At the start of the case, prosecutor Martin Mulgrew told the jury how, on the morning of July 10 last year, Mr Waterfall from South Oxhey drove to Dr Griffith’s surgery at the Suthergrey House Medical Centre in St Johns Road, Watford.

He parked his silver Hyundai car in the surgery car park before going into the building, where the doctor was working that morning in consultation room number 9.

The doctor told the jury he had been based at the surgery for 20 years and that morning had been seeing patients since 7.20am.

He said his name was on the wall beside the door to his consultation room, which was along a corridor.

At around 11am he said he was sitting at his desk in a swivel chair writing up a patient’s notes when the door to the room suddenly opened and in walked Mr Waterfall.

“He stepped into the room and was pointing something at me,” said the doctor.

He said he couldn’t tell immediately what it was because it was wrapped in two plastic carrier bags.

But he said when Mr Waterfall pulled away the bags he could see “It was a loaded crossbow.”

Dr Griffith said he had recognised the defendant as a patient as soon as he came into the room. “He had been my patient for 10 years years. I recognised him immediately. He just seemed furious,” he said.

Mr Waterfall, he said, then told him: “You killed my father and I am going to kill you.”

The GP went on: “His fist was clenched, it was like his whole body was clenched.”

The doctor said from a distance of about five feet Mr Waterfall fired the bolt at him which entered the left side of his abdomen while he was still sitting in his swivel chair.

The jury heard Mr Griffith was saved from serious injury that day because it had been very hot and he had loosened his shirt by pulling it up from under the waistband of his trousers so that it was gathered in folds around his midriff area.

As a result, the crossbow arrow had to pass through four layers of the check cotton shirt before entering his body and didn’t go deep enough to cause serious injury.

The court was told after firing the bolt and realising he hadn’t killed the doctor, Mr Waterfall of Fairhaven Crescent, South Oxhey, Watford,  dropped the crossbow on the floor and left the consultation room.

Dr Griffith, having removed the bolt from the left side of his abdomen, followed him outside the building to the car park and tried to stop him from getting into his car by talking to him.

“I tried to persuade him to go to the police station round the corner. I said I will come with you. I wasn’t sure if he had anything else on him,” he said.

In the car park he said the defendant had told him he had “murdered” his father, adding: “You have been sending me to a loony bin for 30 years.”

The doctor said when Mr Waterfall got into his car he took photos on his mobile phone of the vehicle’s number plate before going back into the surgery where he called the police.

He said a woman colleague “dressed the wound.”

Earlier in his opening address to the jury, the prosecutor said how, in the days leading up to the attack on the doctor, the defendant had “developed a festering hatred” for him.

He said it was based on what he perceived as the mistreatment of himself and his father.

The court heard Mr Waterfall had in the past experienced mental health issues, including an eating disorder and depression.

After the defendant’s arrest, said the prosecutor, police officers discovered he had documented his anger at the treatment given to his father and himself in a number of video recordings he had made.

A USB stick that was strapped to his toe on his arrest was also found to contain information “files” in which he expressed his anger.

Mr Mulgrew said they demonstrated the defendant’s “irrational and growing hatred” towards Dr Griffith.

As a result, he said Mr Waterfall had formulated a plan to arm himself with the crossbow, go to the surgery to seek out the doctor and kill him.

He said an expert who examined the crossbow tested it and found it could send an arrow through the air at a speed of 187 feet per second and was capable of causing a fatal injury.

The jury were told that Mr Waterfall had earlier admitted a charge of wounding Dr Griffith with intent.

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