Police kill ex-mercenary armed with an air-rifle

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The Independent Online

A former soldier who claimed to have killed 46 people as a mercenary has been shot dead by the police while he was armed with only an air rifle.

A former soldier who claimed to have killed 46 people as a mercenary has been shot dead by the police while he was armed with only an air rifle.

Kirk John Davies, 30, who is understood to have been hit in the abdomen and hand, died from his wounds early yesterday after being shot in the grounds of a hospital in West Yorkshire, police said.

Armed police were called to a secure hospital unit in Wakefield where a man was reported to be threatening staff with a gun on Sunday night.

A senior officer with West Yorkshire Police said that, after Mr Davies was shot, his officers discovered he was armed with an air rifle covered in camouflage netting. An investigation was set up by the Police Complaints Authority, which has brought in detectives from the Greater Manchester force to run the inquiry.

During a court appearance three years ago, it was claimed that Mr Davies had deserted the British Army to become a mercenary sniper in the Croatian Army. He claimed to have killed 46 Serbs during the war in Bosnia, although veterans of the war in the former Yugoslavia dismissed the suggestion as a fantasy.

West Yorkshire Police said that at around 9pm on Sunday Mr Davies went into Selby police station in North Yorkshire and pointed a rifle at the officer on the desk. No shots were fired and Mr Davies drove off in an Austin Maestro.

Police were called to Newton Lodge secure hospital unit at about 10.30pm. Mr Davies had asked to see a woman who worked at another hospital near by and had threatened staff, police said.

Armed police arrived on the scene and Mr Davies was found in the hospital grounds. He was challenged to hand over his weapon but refused to do so and walked into a wooded area, said Assistant Chief Constable Andy Brown, of West Yorkshire Police.

"He was again challenged and shots were subsequently fired by police," Mr Brown said. "He was taken to Pinderfields Hospital where emergency surgery took place, but he died at 12.20am."

Mr Davies is understood to have been shot twice. Early reports suggest that the same police marksman fired both times, but all the officers' weapons will have to be examined to establish who was responsible. It is unclear whether Mr Davies fired his weapon, which was recovered from the scene.

He claimed to have joined the Duke of Wellington's Regiment when he was 19 but, despite seeing action in Northern Ireland, deserted because of boredom. He then enlisted in the Croatian Army as a sniper before returning to Britain in Christmas 1996, he claimed.

York Crown Court gave him a nine-month jail term in 1997, reduced to probation on appeal, for affray and possessing an offensive weapon after attacking his father's car at his home in Selby.

He had always believed his father, Tony, was an SAS hero, the court was told. But his mother told him after his return that his father had been an Army truck driver.

Dressed in Croatian uniform and armed with a Gurkha kukri knife and a steel poker, Mr Davies confronted his father. Police used CS spray to subdue him.

His barrister at the appeal, Robert Collins, said that his client was suffering from post- traumatic stress disorder. "He had credited to him 46 Serbian kills. He can still see their faces and although he is coy about it, he is now terrified of battles, having seen so many of them dead," he told the court.

A former sergeant in the Royal Green Jackets who saw action with the Croatians said yesterday that he vaguely recalled someone who may have been Davies, but warned that his claims must be treated with scepticism. Croatian soldiers who murdered Serbian and Bosnian civilians would claim "kills," he said, but he could not recall a British "super sniper" in the war.

Mr Davies had been living with his girlfriend and two-year-old boy in the village of Burn, five miles south of Selby. He was said to have worked as a nightclub doorman, labourer, security guard and crane operator. Ian Murray, landlord of The Wheatsheaf, a pub in the village, said: "He was a very competitive lad and he always liked to win but he never gave the impression of being a Rambo type."

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