Inquest date set for murderer Derrick Bird

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The Independent Online

A date for the inquests into the deaths of mass killer Derrick Bird and the 12 victims he gunned down was set today.

The hearing, scheduled to last up to six weeks, will take place in Workington, Cumbria, from March 1.

Taxi driver Bird, 52, went on a shooting rampage as he drove around west Cumbria on June 2 last year before he shot himself.

HM Coroner for North and West Cumbria David Roberts will hear the joint inquests at the Energus conference centre.

It is understood the families of those killed, and the authorities, were keen that the inquests be completed ahead of the first anniversary of the shootings.

A file containing at least 2,000 potential witness statements has been passed to the coroner by Cumbria Constabulary.

More than 1,600 calls were made to the force's control room on the day and 900 calls came through to its casualty bureau.

Part of the remit of the inquest into Bird's death will be to examine his state of mind leading up to the shootings.

Bird, from Rowrah, also injured 11 others in his shooting spree in Lamplugh, Frizington, Whitehaven, Egremont, Gosforth and Seascale, before he was found dead in a wooded area near Boot - just more than three hours after his first victim was found by officers.

An independent police review on how Cumbria Constabulary reacted on the day of the shootings and the resources it deployed was due to report this month but is now expected to be held back until after the conclusion of the inquests. Both aspects will be covered in depth by the coroner.

In November, a similar review into Bird's firearms licence revealed he fired a total of 54 rounds of ammunition from the two weapons he used in the attacks.

He had tried to retrieve one of his three shotguns, which he had transferred to another certificate holder the night before the killings, after he committed the first two murders, of his twin brother David and his solicitor Kevin Commons.

Bird went to the person's house and a two-minute conversation followed before he was refused access to the gun and went on his way towards Whitehaven.

The hearings will investigate the deaths of David Bird, 52, Mr Commons, 60, taxi driver Darren Rewcastle, 43, retired security worker Kenneth Fishburn, 71, mother-of-two Susan Hughes, 57, retired couple James and Jennifer Jackson, aged 67 and 68, part-time mole catcher Isaac Dixon, 65, farmer and rugby league player Garry Purdham, 31, retired Sellafield worker Michael Pike, 64, pensioner Jane Robinson, 66, estate agent Jamie Clark, 23, and Bird himself.

The inquests are set to be completed by April 6.