Keyham shooting victim’s dog ran home to alert wife, inquest hears

One of two dogs belonging to a Keyham shooting victim ran home to alert his family, an inquest heard.

Poppy, a husky cross, returned home after Stephen Washington, 59, was shot dead by Jake Davison, 22, in Plymouth on the afternoon of August 12 2021.

Sheila Washington was immediately worried because her husband of nearly 40 years was missing with their other dog, a husky called Drift.

Mr Washington, a full-time carer for his disabled wife, had gone out without his phone, keys or wallet to take the animals for a short walk, Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon Coroner’s Court was told.

Mrs Washington said as her husband left, he told her: “See you in a bit. Won’t be long.”

Jake Davison
Jake Davison, 22, killed his mother Maxine, 51, after a row and then shot dead four others in a 12-minute attack (PA)

In a written statement read to the court, Mrs Washington said: “A short while later, I heard a bang. There were often bangs in the area, such as fireworks or children making noises, so I didn’t give it any further thought.

“Around 10 minutes after Steve had left, there was a bang on the front door and the sounds of scratching.

“I opened the door and Poppy came running into the house with her lead attached and she was shaking.

“Not long after, I started hearing sirens and, because of the fact that Poppy had come running back to the house, I asked my granddaughter to go and try and find Steve.”

Mr Washington, a former gardener and delivery driver, had been killed on a path popular with dog walkers close to Biddick Drive.

The couple’s granddaughter and son went looking and saw police cordons but were unable to find Mr Washington.

“I spoke with our other children on the phone and they could not get to the house due to the police cordon,” Mrs Washington said.

“At 10.55pm, there was a knock on the door and plainclothes officers arrived and they were invited in and then we were told that Stephen had been shot and had died.”

Mrs Washington added: “I am still finding it hard to come to terms with how Steve has died and how he is no longer with us.

“Never could I imagine losing him in such a horrendous circumstance.”

The couple met when Mrs Washington was a teenager and they both lived in Surrey, the inquest was told.

They married in 1983.

In 1994, they moved to Plymouth to be closer to family.