Mother of Plymouth shooter reported him to Prevent anti-terror scheme

The mother of Jake Davison, who shot her and four other people dead in Plymouth, Devon, had reported him to the government’s counter-terrorism Prevent programme months before he applied for a shotgun licence, a coroner has heard.

Maxine Davison, 51, contacted the programme in November 2016 with concerns about her son but Davison applied for a shotgun certificate in July 2017 and a certificate was issued to him in January 2018.

Davison, 22, who harboured extreme misogynistic views, killed his mother after a row and then shot dead four other people in an attack in August last year.

Three-year-old Sophie Martyn; her father, Lee, 43; Stephen Washington, 59; and Kate Shepherd, 66, were attacked in the Keyham area of the city. The apprentice crane operator then turned the pump-action shotgun on himself before armed officers reached him.

The killings happened only weeks after Devon and Cornwall police had returned the shotgun and licence to Davison, which had been seized after he assaulted two teenagers in a park.

Full details of the Prevent referral were not disclosed during the pre-inquest hearing at Plymouth coroner’s court on Tuesday but will be a key line of inquiry at the full inquest, expected to begin in January 2023.

Ian Arrow, the senior coroner for Plymouth and south Devon, said those running the Prevent scheme could be invited to be “interested persons”, meaning they could be legally represented and have the right to ask questions of witnesses.

Davison’s contact with mental health services in May 2021 will also be examined, as well as an occupational health assessment he underwent.

Jason Beer QC, representing Devon and Cornwall police, said the force was still actively investigating the events of last summer. This included examining Davison’s use of chatrooms on the social media site Reddit. “A review of Jake Davison’s computer and mobile telephone showed he was an active member of Reddit forums,” Beer said. “Some of these were ‘incel’ [involuntary celibate] related.”

He said Reddit had almost immediately deleted Davison’s account once the shootings took place. “Reddit declined to assist in any dialogue for the provision of that material,” he said.

The barrister said police had commissioned psychological reports into mass killers, incel-motivated killers and steroid abuse.

He said a review of the force’s firearms licensing system had taken place, leading to procedures being changed and extra training being given.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has been investigating issues around Davison’s shotgun licence. Two members of staff in the firearms licensing department involved in granting the shotgun certificate have been served with gross misconduct notices, while an officer has been served with a misconduct notice.

The IOPC said on Tuesday its investigation into Davison’s possession of a shotgun and shotgun certificate was complete and it had made a series of recommendations to help improve licensing arrangements at a force and national level. It said it would discuss with the coroner when it would release its findings.

A further pre-inquest review will take place on 19 December.

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