Gunman Jake Davison browsed incel websites shortly before killing five people but did not plan the mass shooting, a senior police officer told an inquest.
The incel – or involuntarily celibate – subculture involves men expressing hostility and extreme resentment, mainly online, towards those who are sexually active, especially women.
After walking home from work on the afternoon of August 12 2021, Davison, 22, used his computer to organise a parcel’s redelivery, book a driving theory test and look at flats to rent.
He spent “less than 10 minutes’ on incel sites, the inquest heard, with the majority of his time spent watching videos of Breaking Bad, Family Guy, South Park and The Simpsons.
He also looked at OnlyFans, a subscription site largely used by sex workers producing pornography, and for information about detransitioning – when people have changed gender and want to reverse the process.
Superintendent Rachel Bentley, who led the investigation into Davison’s shotgun rampage in Plymouth – which took the lives of his mother Maxine, 51, Lee Martyn, 43, and his daughter Sophie, three, Stephen Washington, 59, and Kate Shepherd, 66 – said there was no link between the material found on his computer and the killings.
“There was no evidence of a manifesto or planning,” she said.
“There was no evidence to confirm these sites were the inspiration for the events of August 12.”
Davison’s computer history was “unremarkable”, Ms Bentley told the inquest’s jury.
She said 1.6 million files were recovered from the machine’s 1.4 terabyte hard drive and 57 were of “shocking or unacceptable content”.
Ms Bentley said police were unable to access Davison’s Reddit account because the US-based company deleted it shortly after the killings and refused to share any information.
Dominic Adamson KC, representing the victims’ families, asked: “It is right that there was, however, content which right-thinking people would think was quite shocking?
“It is completely disturbing material, is it not?”
Ms Bentley said: “Yes.”
Recovered data showed Davison watched a YouTube video about US-based spree killer Elliot Rodger, who is idolised by supporters of incel culture.
He also made references to the so-called “black pill” philosophy – described as a fatalistic view that a person’s success with the opposite sex is determined at birth.
Davison also uploaded videos to the internet in which he described himself as a “virgin, f****** fat and ugly” and said his mother was a “dirty, insufferable and vile creature”.
He also likened himself to the Terminator from the Hollywood films, saying: “I like to think I am the Terminator and, despite reaching total system failure, he keeps trying to complete his mission.”
Three weeks before the killings, Davison searched for information on US mass murderer Ted Bundy and incel serial killers.
He also posted videos on a YouTube channel under the name Professor Waffle, saying: “I just don’t have any willpower to do anything anymore”, later saying he was so “beaten down and defeated by f****** life”.
Maxine Davison was so concerned about her son she contacted the Career South West service in 2016, when he was 18, the inquest also heard.
She told an adviser he was “doing nothing” with his life and spent his time at home, was isolated, had limited friends and was “fixated” with guns and ammunition and would spend time online chatting to “rednecks in Texas”.
“Mum is now concerned that if she gives him any money from the Disability Living Allowance she receives for him he will go out and buy a weapon,” notes of the conversation said.
Karen Roberts, a careers adviser, said she discussed Mrs Davison’s concerns with her bosses.
They decided to make a safeguarding referral to Pete Aley at Plymouth City Council, the local lead contact for the Prevent programme, but he declined the referral.
Mrs Roberts said Prevent aims to identify those at risk of being “groomed for terrorism”.
Stuart Allen, who worked with Mrs Roberts, spoke with Mrs Davison, 51, who went on to become her son’s first victim, and said: “She told me that he is not a danger to anyone but feels his obsessions may be damaging his mental health.”
Asked why the referral could have been declined, he said: “The fact that we had no evidence that he had expressed any views to do any harm to our knowledge.”
Mr Allen said had Davison not engaged with their service or further information had been forthcoming about weapons, a further Prevent referral could have been made.
A detective from Counter Terrorism South West responsible for Prevent had no record of a referral about Davison, the inquest later heard.