GP never said Plymouth gunman was fit to own firearm, hearing told

The doctor of Plymouth mass killer Jake Davison never told police he was fit to hold a firearm, a hearing has been told.

Davison shot dead five people before killing himself after the attack in August.

In July 2017 Davidson applied for a firearms licence and his GP was contacted by police about his fitness to hold a lethal firearm.

A pre-inquest hearing on Thursday heard the GP declined to answer and the next year, in January 2018, police granted the firearms licence and thus permission to hold a pump action shotgun for five years.

Paediatric consultant Dr Carolyn Adcock, overseeing a review into the death of Sophie Martyn, three, who was one of the victims, told the hearing the GP had declined to answer the crucial question from police, saying: “The GP wrote declining to give information because he did not feel he was in a position to be qualified to comment on the personality of a patient to say whether or not they were safe to hold a gun licence.”

Devon and Cornwall police are understood to have told investigators from the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is investigating whether officers bungled Davison’s gun application, that the rules at the time led them to believe they could not refuse the application.

They had previously refused a licence when an applicant’s GP refused to answer the question of whether they were fit to have a gun, and then had that refusal overturned in the courts.
After the Plymouth shootings the Home Office tightened the rules.

Davison, 22, shot dead his mother, the three-year-old girl and three other people on 12 August in a 12-minute shooting rampage. The gun had been taken away after he got into a fight in September 2020, only to be returned by police weeks before the killings.

He had aired Incel views online before the shootings.

The hearing heard that during lockdown Davison got mental health support and had been in contact with a telephone helpline run by the Livewell Southwest organisation.

The IOPC is investigating whether the police bungled the handling of Davison’s firearm’s licence, including the decision to hand him back his weapon, which had been taken away after he got into a fight.

The IOPC said it was also investigating a claim
from a man who claims police were told that Davison attacked him outside a supermarket in Plymouth in 2016, before the gun licence was issued. They also said an officer from the firearms team had been placed under investigation for potential gross misconduct.

The IOPC report is expected to be completed in the new year.

Solicitor Patrick Maguire, representing the families of victims Kate Shepherd, Stephen Washington, the widow of Lee Martyn and the mother of Sophie Martyn, said: “My clients are greatly concerned about how Davison came into possession of the firearm against the backdrop of matters aired at today’s hearing.”

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