Plymouth gunman shot mother in head after row, coroner hears

The Plymouth gunman Jake Davison shot his mother in the head and torso after an argument at their home before killing four strangers including a three-year-old girl on nearby streets and a park, a coroner has heard.

Maxine Davison, 51, described in court as a former trawler woman, died at her home on Biddick Drive, Keyham, last Thursday, the senior coroner, Ian Arrow, was told.

Lee Martyn, 43, a married carpet fitter, who was walking the family dog with his daughter Sophie Martyn, died on Biddick Drive after they were shot. Father and daughter suffered gunshot wounds to the head and Martyn was also shot in the torso.

Stephen Washington, 59, a carer for his wife, was shot in the chest as he walked his dogs on “Snakey path”.

Kate Shepherd, 66, a married artist, was shot in the abdomen on nearby Henderson Place. She received immediate medical attention, the court heard, and was taken to hospital but could not be saved.

The senior investigating officer, DI Steve Hambly, told the court he had led the investigation into the shootings, codenamed Operation Lily Pad. Apart from Davison’s mother, he said, the victims had been attacked by a person not known to them.

Hambly, a member of Devon and Cornwall’s major crime investigation team, gave brief details about each victim during the 10-minute hearing. He said Maxine Davison was born in Plymouth and had worked on trawlers, though not for a number of years. “She sustained fatal gunshot wounds following an argument with her son,” said Hambly.

Lee and Sophie Martyn were walking the family dog on Biddick Drive. Hambly said they were shot by an “assailant” not known to them. Both father and daughter were born in Plymouth; Sophie on Christmas Eve 2017.

Hambly said Washington was born in Surrey but lived in Plymouth, while Shepherd was born in Woolwich, south-east London, and also lived in the Devon city.

The coroner asked the detective to prepare a file on the case within 12 weeks and said there would be a review on 9 December.

An inquest on Davison, 22, an apprentice crane operator who shot himself before police could reach him, will be opened on Thursday afternoon. His social media has suggested a strong interest in the “incel” (“involuntary celibate”) movement, as well as a deep interest in guns.

The inquest process is the third of three investigations into Davis’s attacks.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating why Davison was given a shotgun certificate despite his history of mental health issues, and why his licence was returned to him last month after being confiscated because an allegation of assault. Meanwhile, an outside police force is undertaking an urgent review of Devon and Cornwall’s licensing regime.

The government has already moved to address potential problems in the licensing system. The home secretary, Priti Patel, has told all police forces to review the way they issue licences, and statutory guidance is to be published spelling out that nobody should be given a firearm licence until their doctor has informed the police of any medical conditions, including mental health issues, that may make them unfit to have a gun.

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