Bird 'had no mental health issues'

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The Independent Online

Mass killer Derrick Bird had no record of mental health problems and had a "fairly unremarkable medical history", an inquest heard today.

Bird, 52, who shot dead 12 people and then turned the gun on himself, was not a frequent visitor to his local GP surgery in Whitehaven, Cumbria.



Doctors at the Flatt Walks surgery confirmed there were no markers in his records which pointed to a need for specialist mental health treatment.



He had though complained of suffering flashbacks from an assault he suffered while working as a taxi driver in October 2007. He also said he was subsequently nervous about working at night.



Bird visited the practice on four occasions following the attack and also complained about continuing shoulder pain from the incident which left him with two broken teeth and bruising to the jaw.



Dr David Rogers told the hearing in Workington that on one occasion a discussion took place about the option of psychiatric help but the problem apparently settled down with Bird not mentioning the incident in future consultations.



He said: "There is no history of him ever being diagnosed with any mental health problem.



"He was never referred to a specialist and was never given any prescriptions to anything related to a mental health problem."



His medical history at the surgery mainly consisted of problems with his back and minor coughs and colds, Dr Rogers said.



HM coroner for North and West Cumbria, David Roberts, asked: "A fairly unremarkable medical history?"



"Yes, it is," the doctor replied.









Fellow GP Dr Marieke Van Bussel treated Bird on his last visit to the practice at a morning surgery in Cleator Moor on May 11 last year - less than a month before the shootings.



Bird was concerned he had lost his sense of smell for more than a year and the antibiotics and nasal spray he had been prescribed three months earlier had not had any effect.



Dr Van Bussel referred him to a specialist and noted he was "starting to get down" about the ailment.



She told the inquest jury: "I can remember him saying he was down which is not uncommon. You do not have any sense of food or smell or anything around you. I was not unduly concerned about that comment at the time it was made.



"I must say with hindsight that I don't think he came over as overly depressed."



The jury were later shown crime scene photographs of Bird's home in Rowrah Road, Rowrah, taken during police searches following the shootings.



The property was described as "generally untidy", with a pile of clothes strewn across his back bedroom.



A saw and a shotgun barrel were found on his sofa and the deeds to his house were left out in a prominent position.



Letters about his ongoing tax affairs were discovered screwed up in his bin and handwritten notes about his financial problems were in a kitchen drawer.



A total of 460 live rounds for his .22 rifle used in the killings and 440 rounds of shotgun ammunition were found at the property, along with an air rifle and a 20-bore shotgun.



His switched off mobile phone was found in the pocket of his coat left hanging up downstairs.



The hearing into the events of June 2 last year was adjourned until tomorrow when a psychologist and psychiatrist will give evidence in relation to Bird's state of mind.





Toxicology tests showed that Bird was not affected by alcohol or drugs at the start of or during the shootings.



No traces of drugs were found in his system and just a small level of alcohol.