Tributes flood in for BBC sport commentator’s wife and daughters who were killed in suspected crossbow attack

Figures from across the United Kingdom have offered their condolences to a BBC sport commentator, after his wife and two daughters were killed by an alleged crossbow attacker, in deaths that again drew attention to the epidemic of violence against women.

Carol Hunt, 61, wife of BBC horse racing commentator, John Hunt, and their daughters, Hannah Hunt, 28, and Louise Hunt, 25, died from injuries sustained in an attack in Bushey, just northwest of London, on Tuesday, according to police and Britain’s public broadcaster.

A 26-year-old suspect wanted in connection with the killings, and named as Kyle Clifford, was found by British police in Enfield, north London, on Wednesday, following a sprawling manhunt. There were no previous reports to the force over Clifford, who is in serious condition in hospital and is yet to speak with officers, Hertfordshire Police said in a statement.

A crossbow was recovered as part of the investigation, which police believe was used in a “targeted incident.”

Epidemic of violence against women

The killings of the three women rocked Britain, where mass murders are infrequent but violence against women and girls has been officially labeled as a national threat.

A woman is killed by a man every three days in the UK and one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, Reem Alsalem, said earlier this year.

Charities and human rights organizations have subsequently reiterated urgent demands to tackle femicide in the UK.

“Male violence against women and girls is at epidemic levels,” said SafeLives, a UK-based charity working to end domestic abuse, adding: “Domestic abuse is a major public health crisis. It should be given the same priority as terrorism.”

Refuge, a UK-based non-profit providing support for survivors of domestic abuse, posted on X: “Our thoughts are with Carol, Hannah and Louise Hunt and their family and friends following the devastating incident in Bushey.”

British Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called the attack “truly shocking,” adding that she is “being kept fully updated” by authorities.

The country’s new Labour government campaigned on a manifesto to “tackle the scourge of violence against women and girls” in Britain, including a review of the sentencing process, and requiring forces to target repeat offenders with tools used for counter-terror and serious organized crime investigations.

‘His life was ripped apart’

An array of BBC journalists paid tributes to their colleague, in an outpouring of grief across the organization and wider sports industry.

BBC Sport presenter Mark Chapman said: “John Hunt is our colleague, and our friend, not just to the current 5 Live Sport team, but to all of those who have worked here with him over the past 20 years.

“On behalf of everybody connected to 5 Live Sport, our love and thoughts and support are with John and his family,” Chapman said live on air.

Dan Walker, who used to host the BBC show Football Focus, posted on X that: “John Hunt is one of the best and his life was ripped apart yesterday.”

British sisters Hannah Hunt (left), 28, and Louise Hunt (right), 25, died from their wounds. - From BBC
British sisters Hannah Hunt (left), 28, and Louise Hunt (right), 25, died from their wounds. - From BBC

Tim Peach, a producer for BBC Cricket, described Hunt as “one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I’ve ever worked with.” “He’s peerless at his job,” Peach said on X, “but he’s always happiest talking about ‘my Carol’ and ‘my girls.’”

Michael Owen, a former soccer player and racehorse owner, also posted on X following England’s soccer win at the European Championship, writing that “while the country celebrate(s), spare a thought for John Hunt. I can’t remember feeling so utterly horrified in years. Those poor girls. Truly horrific.”

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said in a statement that its thoughts are with Hunt, his family, and friends. “It is impossible to comprehend the horror that has been inflicted upon them by this dreadful event,” Julie Harrington, the BHA chief executive, said.

Ascot Racecourse, one of Britain’s most famous horse-racing grounds, said that it echoed the BHA’s words and posted that “our thoughts are with John Hunt at this tragic time.”

Crossbow legislation in the UK

The strength of crossbow laws in the UK was called into question last year, after a British man was incarcerated for breaking into Windsor Castle and planning to assassinate the late Queen Elizabeth II with the weapon in 2021.

At the time, the former Conservative government did not change the legislation, despite launching an eight-week review of the rules and the possibility of introducing a licensing scheme.

In Britain, it is legal for a person to buy or own a crossbow if they are over 18, though anyone who carries one in public without a reasonable excuse can face imprisonment.

Crossbow attacks in the UK are rare, with fewer than 10 homicides by crossbow between 2011 and 2021, according to the government.

The British home secretary is now re-examining the country’s crossbow laws, according to her colleague, security minister Dan Jarvis.

“We are seized by the seriousness and the importance of this,” Jarvis told the BBC’s Today program on Thursday, adding that the new government has “made a manifesto commitment” to halve violence against women and girls in Britain over a 10-year period.

“We will move as quickly as we possibly can to reach a judgement about whether we do need to amend the existing legislative framework,” he added.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Sugam Pokharel, Benjamin Brown, Louis Mian, Eve Brennan contributed reporting.

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