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GPs go forth

GP suffers crossbow bolt wound in assault by disgruntled patient

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 last week.

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.'

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 is 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 10 July 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 nine.

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. 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 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 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.

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.

Mr Waterfall said he had made the recordings because he believed the doctors, including Mr Griffith, were responsible for his and his father’s health suffering.

'I believed they hadn’t provided the correct sort of treatment for me or my father,' he told the court.

He said the death of his 76-year-old dementia sufferer father on 6 July last year had left him 'devastated.'

The GP told the jury that, in addition, the father was suffering from vascular dementia. He said he found the pensioner had fluid in his right lung and arranged for him to be admitted to hospital for it to be drained.

However the court heard that couldn’t take place when at the hospital it was discovered the father had lung cancer. He died the following day.

The trial continues.

Readers' comments (7)

  • Shocking. Where is the GMC on this?

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  • The GMC advise us to be more resilient. Ninja training will become mandatory so we can become more nimble to dodge those bolts. At least Trump would give us a gun.

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  • I wouldn't be surprised if GMC opens up investigation on Poor Dr Griffith about treatment offered to attackers father and probably court will release the attacker with minor punishment or even free him saying when he attacked doctor he was not in sound mental state.
    Pathetic justice in this country. GMC wont do a damn thing about this. IF Dr had attacked patient with crossbow .He would have been suspended immediately and jailed and stopped forever from practicing medicine.

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  • Count your blessings.They shoot doctors in the US.

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  • Pradeep, forget about the Crossbow- IF the doctor had just used swear words - which a patient himself had used against the doctor - the doctor would be in trouble with NHSE/GMC. This is not Hypothetical. It is based on actual facts.

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  • Shocking!
    How is it I am only hearing about this now??
    Should this have prompted national action by the BMA?

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  • DrDeath - this happens all the time. has happened to me. Apparently we as Doctors have to be always aware of our professional conduct as per GMC guidelines. We are supposed to be superhumans at all times.

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