Plymouth gunman argued with his mother before shooting her dead, inquest hears

‘She sustained fatal gun wounds following an argument with her son’, detective inspector says

Holly Bancroft
Thursday 19 August 2021 17:55
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Jake Davison argued with his mother before shooting her dead, an inquest into last week’s Plymouth tragedy heard.

The apprentice crane operator, 22, then went on to kill another four people with a licensed shotgun before turning it on himself and he died from a “shotgun wound to the head”.

Opening the inquests into the deaths of the gunman’s five victims on Thursday, senior coroner for Plymouth, Ian Arrow, called on evidence from the senior investigating officer at Devon and Cornwall Police.

Detective Inspector Steve Hambly confirmed the death of Maxine Davison, 51, at her home in Biddick Drive on Thursday evening, saying: “A former trawler-woman by occupation… she sustained fatal gun wounds following an argument with her son.”

DI Hambly said that, on present evidence, her cause of death was shotgun wounds to the torso and head.

Coroner Ian Arrow also opened the hearings into the deaths of Sophie Martyn, three, her father Lee Martyn, 43, Stephen Washington, 58, and Kate Shepherd, 66.

Inspector Hambly told the court that Lee Martyn had died of gunshot wounds to the head and torso after going, “walking with his daughter Sophie and his family dog”. Sophie was also, “shot by an assailant that was not known to her”, and died of a shotgun wound to the head.

Stephen Washington, 58, was “out walking his dogs” when he was attacked on a footpath that runs near Biddick Drive, Keyham. He died of a “shotgun wound to the chest”, pending further toxicology reports.

Artist Katherine Shepherd, 66, was shot in the abdomen and received immediate medical attention but died at Derriford hospital.

In a separate hearing in the afternoon, Mr Arrow opened the inquest into the death of Davison. DI Hambly told the later hearing that, “following an argument with his mother, Jake then fatally wounded his mother... fatally wounded four others, before taking his own life”.

DI Hambly added that the cause of Davison’s death was a, “shotgun wound to the head, pending histology and toxicology”.

Mr Arrow asked the police officer to contact the Independent Office for Police Conduct which is carrying out a separate investigation into how Davison was allowed a shotgun licence.

He asked that the IOPC consider recommendations made following a shooting on New Year’s Day in 2012 by Michael Atherton, 42, who used a shotgun to kill himself, his partner Susan McGoldrick, her sister Alison Turnbull and Ms Turnbull’s daughter Tanya.

At the time, Durham Police admitted that it knew that Atherton had had a history of violence and his inquest hearing was told how the force had missed opportunities to remove the weapons he legally owned.

Atherton had his weapons confiscated but they were returned to him after officers opted to give him a “final warning”.

Following the tragedy, changes were made to the Firearms Act 1968 to prevent any person who received a suspended sentence of three months or more from possessing a firearm.

Last Thursday’s shootings have sparked calls for further gun control regulation and police forces across England and Wales have been asked to review their firearms application process in light of the tragedy.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, has announced that new statutory guidance will be published spelling out that nobody should be given a firearm licence until their doctor has informed the police of any medical conditions that would make them unfit.

It emerged since the shooting that Davison received help from mental health practitioners during lockdown.

In a written statement to parliament this week, Ms Patel said: “The new guidance... will mean that no one is given a firearms licence unless their doctor has confirmed to the police whether or not they have any relevant medical conditions, including an assessment of their mental health, and it will make explicit that firearms applicants may be subject to social media checks.”

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