Some family stay away from Cumbria gunman's funeral

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The Independent Online

Mass killer Derrick Bird's funeral finally took place today, the final of 13 services held in just a week.

Friends and some relatives gathered to commemorate his life at Distington Crematorium, also the venue for funerals for several of Bird's victims.

But not all members of his family felt able to attend.

In a statement, the family of his twin brother David, Bird's first victim, said: "We send our love and support to our grandma, auntie, uncle and cousins on this difficult day.

"As you can imagine this has been a very hard time for our family and at this present moment we do not feel physically and emotionally strong enough to attend the funeral.

"However, we would like to express our love and support to the rest of the family."

Bird's relatives insisted that his funeral would be held last as a mark of respect to his victims.

The Rev Jim Marshall, who conducted this evening's service, said earlier that it was hoped that the final funeral would give a sense of hope for the community and individuals struggling to come to terms with the events of June 2.

On that day, father-of-two Bird, who left no suicide note, cracked for reasons he takes to his grave.

In the early hours he killed his twin brother as he lay in bed in his Lamplugh farmhouse not far from Bird's pebble-dashed mid-terraced home in Rowrah.

From there his next target was the Bird family solicitor, Kevin Commons, 60.

He shot Mr Commons dead on the driveway of his Frizington home.

It has been suggested that Bird, who enjoyed holidays to the Thai resort of Pattaya, chose these two men as he perceived them as key players in his problems.

Bird was being investigated for alleged tax evasion and was due to meet Mr Commons about his financial plight.

Also, his brother David was given £25,000 by their father Joseph before he died.

The sum was meant to be deducted from any future bequest but when he died his legacy - just £10,000 net - went to his widow Mary, 87, and Derrick and elder brother Brian got nothing.

Funeral organisers said Mrs Bird was too distraught to attend today.

A parallel service was being held in her room at Cockermouth Hospital.

Earlier today, the funeral was held of Bird's youngest victim, estate agent Jamie Clark, 23.

Mr Clark was driving through Seascale from a viewing when Bird shot him.

Mourners flocked to the private service at the Vale Crematorium in Luton, Bedfordshire.

Mr Clark's fiancee Leanne Jarman, 21, parents Richard and Jane, 56 and 51, from Northall, near Leighton Buzzard, Beds, and brother Andrew, 26, were among the mourners.

Speaking ahead of the service, Miss Jarman revealed she was in Egremont when Bird killed two other people.

She was bundled into a cafe by a police officer just half-an-hour before her boyfriend became Bird's youngest victim.

She heard the shot that killed mum-of-two Susan Hughes, and was trying to call Mr Clark, who she had been with for four-and-a-half years, when Kenneth Fishburn, 71, was also killed.

Teaching student Miss Jarman, from Carlisle, was working as a summer temp for Belvoir, the lettings firm that had employed Mr Clark for the past two years.

Mr Clark had moved to Carlisle to be with her, she said.

About 80 people attended Bird's funeral.

Ten of Bird's family and friends arrived for the private service on a coach.

As well as his sons Graeme, 28, and Jamie, 16, and daughter-in-law Victoria - who gave birth just weeks ago, making the killer a grandfather - was his ex partner Linda Mills, 48.

Bird's nieces Rachel, 28, Tracey, 26, and Katie, 19, all stayed away.