Family of Keyham gunman tell inquest they wish they could ‘turn back time’

The family of gunman Jake Davison have spoken of their devastation that he killed five people – including his own mother – and wished they could turn back time to prevent the tragedy from happening, an inquest heard.

Davison, 22, killed his mother Maxine, 51, after a row and then shot dead four others in a 12-minute attack in Plymouth.

Three-year-old Sophie Martyn, her father, Lee, 43, Stephen Washington, 59, and Kate Shepherd, 66, died on the evening of August 12 2021 in the Keyham area of the city.

An inquest into Jake Davison's death will take place after that of his victims (handout)
Jake Davison (Handout/PA)

Apprentice crane operator Davison then turned the pump-action shotgun on himself before armed police reached him.

Inquests at Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon Coroner’s Court resumed at Exeter Racecourse with pen portrait statements read to the jury of five men and six women on behalf of the families of those who died.

Josh Davison, the gunman’s brother, said his whole family was “appalled” by his actions that day.

“We are grappling to understand and manage our own health, emotions and bereavement following the incident,” Mr Davison said.

“Even deeper than that, we think we share the feelings of despair, hurt and loss of the Martyn, Washington and Shepherd families knowing that it was a member of our family who was responsible for their loss.

Stephen Washington was one of five people killed by Jake Davison (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)
Stephen Washington was one of five people killed by Jake Davison (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

“No words can describe the pain or heaviness of feeling this situation has caused.

“Our involvement in this inquest is to help prevent this from happening in future; an event like this cannot and should not ever happen again.

“If we had one wish, it would be that we could turn back time and allow everyone who had a part in the events leading up to this tragedy an opportunity to make changes to prevent it from happening at all.”

In the statement, which was read by the family’s barrister Nick Stanage, Mr Davison described his mother as a “complicated person and a contrast of many different things”.

“She was thoughtful but impulsive. Reserved and quiet on the one hand, creative, adventurous and able to attract attention, on the other,” he said.

“She was very much an independent, free-spirited soul and really was one of a kind. Sometimes unpredictable and stubborn and very much dancing to the beat of her own drum.”

Five lit candles on the altar following a civic service led by the Bishop of Plymouth at Minister Church Of St Andrew, to remember the five people who were killed by Jake Davison
Five lit candles on the altar following a civic service led by the Bishop of Plymouth at Minister Church Of St Andrew, to remember the five people who were killed by Jake Davison (PA)

“I think she was quirky and eccentric, a lovely woman, well-meaning and kind. Mum was also genuine and straight-talking.

“She was polite and never wished to harm anyone but if she didn’t take to someone, she found it hard to hide it. You could always rely on her to provide an honest opinion on something.”

The killings happened just weeks after Davison’s shotgun and gun licence had been returned by Devon and Cornwall Police.

They had been seized in 2020 after Davison assaulted two teenagers in a park.

He had applied for a shotgun certificate in July 2017 and one was issued in January 2018 that was valid for five years.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has previously launched a criminal investigation into the Devon and Cornwall force’s firearms licensing unit.

Plymouth incident
Floral tributes left in Biddick Drive, Keyham, in August 2021 (Ben Birchall/PA)

As part of the investigation, two members of staff have been served with gross misconduct notices and an officer has been served with a misconduct notice.

Social media usage by Davison suggested an obsession with “incel” culture – meaning “involuntary celibate” – as well as an interest in guns and the US.

Reports have suggested his mother had been struggling to get help for her son, having become concerned about his mental health.

A previous hearing heard she had reported him to the counter-terrorism Prevent programme.