Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Shock as 'quiet fellow' goes on killing spree

Those who knew him were at a loss as to why Derrick Bird turned into a killer today.

The 52-year-old was described as a "quiet" man by neighbours, while acquaintances said he was "fairly popular".

None could have guessed that the divorced father - known as "Birdy" to friends - would turn into a gunman responsible for today's horrific shooting spree.

Bird appears as a short-haired, well-built, middle-aged man in the photo handed out by police today.

From Rowrah, near Frizington in Cumbria, he worked as a self-employed taxi driver.

It is a job that he has done for more than two decades.

He was divorced and lived alone, according to Sue Matthews, a telephonist at A2B Taxis in Whitehaven.

She said: "To be honest, he was a quiet fellow. I am in absolute shock.

"I can't believe he would do that - he was a quiet little fellow.

She added: "I know him through work, he was self-employed but it's a small place.

"I know he had one son, who was grown up, and he lived alone.

She described Bird as a regular in town who would often be seen on nights out.

"I would say he was fairly popular. I would see him once a week out and about. He was known as Birdy," Ms Matthews said.

Glenda Pears, who runs L&G Taxis, described him as a "real nice man". She added that he had two sons, but was divorced.

In his hometown of Rowrah, neighbours were similarly shocked at today's events.

Derek Richardson said: "He kept himself to himself."

Another neighbour, Dorothy Taylor, said: "He lives up the road from me and is a taxi driver. I usually drive past him in my car.

"It's an awful shock. I'm staying in. It's very peaceful and quiet round here.

"He was usually all right, quiet."