Plymouth shootings: Police staff handed disciplinary notice over gunman's licence

6 October 2021, 14:24 | Updated: 6 October 2021, 16:07

Jake Davison killed five people in Plymouth, including a young girl.
Jake Davison killed five people in Plymouth, including a young girl. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A member of police staff has been issued with a disciplinary notice over their handling of Plymouth gunman Jake Davison's application for a shotgun and the decision to return it to him weeks before he killed five people.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it has issued the gross misconduct notice to a member of staff over Davison's original application for a shotgun certificate in July 2017 and the decision to return his shotgun and shotgun certificate in July this year.

Davison, 22, shot and killed five people including his mother in August with a weapon which had just been returned to him by Devon and Cornwall Police.

The tragic incident in Keyham, which unfolded on Thursday, August 12, was the UK's first mass shooting in more than a decade.

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The IOPC watchdog is investigating how the apprentice crane operator was originally granted a shotgun certificate in 2017 by the force.

The watchdog is also examining how Davison was handed back the weapon and certificate weeks before the shooting having been seized after admitting two assaults.

The IOPC said the police staff member who handled Davison's original shotgun application and also decided to return the weapon would be issued with a gross misconduct notice.

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A police officer who investigated the assault against Davison would be issued with a misconduct notice.

Davison was placed on a voluntary intervention programme - an alternative to be charged or cautioned - after admitting assaulting two youths in a park in September last year.

His shotgun and licence were not seized for another three months until concerns were raised directly with the police by a member of staff working on the intervention programme.

In July last year Davison was given back his shotgun and certificate, which he used for clay pigeon shooting.

He went on a 12-minute shooting spree, killing his mother following a row at her home in Biddick Drive, Keyham.

Davison then went outside and shot dead three-year-old Sophie Martyn and her father Lee, 43, in front of horrified onlookers.

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The gunman then shot Stephen Washington, 59, in a nearby park, before shooting Kate Shepherd, 66, on Henderson Place. He then turned the gun on himself before armed officers reached him.

The IOPC said it was investigating whether the police staff member and the police officer shared information appropriately with the force firearms and explosives licensing department regarding Davison's admitted involvement in a violent offence, and whether they took appropriate steps to seize the shotgun certificate, shotgun, and ammunition.

Read more: Plymouth: Police did not seize gunman's shotgun after he admitted assault last year

IOPC regional director David Ford said: "Based on the evidence gathered so far, we have now served disciplinary notices on two individuals within the force to advise them their conduct is subject to investigation.

"The serving of such notices will be kept under review.

"We intend to complete our investigation before the end of this year. We will share any lessons that may be learned with the force and wider organisations as they emerge.

"At the conclusion of our investigation, we will decide whether any individual has a disciplinary case to answer."