Police should have got GP opinion before granting shotgun licence, inquest told

Police should have obtained a GP’s medical opinion before granting the shotgun licence which enabled Jake Davison to kill five people in Plymouth, an inquest has heard.

Davison, 22, killed his mother, Maxine Davison, 51, after a row at their home in the Devon city on the evening of August 12 2021.

He then shot dead Sophie Martyn, three, her father Lee Martyn, 43, Stephen Washington, 59, and Kate Shepherd, 66, in the Keyham area of the city.

Davison, an apprentice crane operator, turned the black Weatherby pump-action shotgun on himself before armed police officers reached him.

Chief Superintendent Roy Linden, of Devon and Cornwall Police told an inquest into the deaths in Exeter on Friday that officers should have gained medical evidence about Davison when considering his application for a shotgun licence.

Plymouth incident
Five people were killed by gunman Jake Davison (Ben Birchall/PA)

He told the inquest: “Opinion should have been sought from a GP.”

Mr Linden said that according to 2017 Home Office guidance, officers “may reach their own conclusions as to the significance of the medical evidence supplied” if they cannot obtain it.

Davison applied for a shotgun certificate in July 2017, with one issued by Devon and Cornwall Police in January 2018 which was valid for five years.

The force revoked Davison’s licence and seized his shotgun in 2020, after Davison assaulted two teenagers in a park, but returned them in 2021 – weeks before the killings.

The inquest heard Davison declared that he had autism on his application, and gave consent for his GP to share information with police about his medical history.

However, Davison’s GP refused to provide an opinion to police assessing whether Davison should be issued with a shotgun certificate.

Mr Linden previously said the GP’s refusal to provide information for Davison’s application was “not rare” at the time, but acknowledged there was no policy in place for what to do when that happened.

The inquest also heard officers in Devon and Cornwall were not given effective training to process gun licence applications at the time.

Dominic Adamson KC, representing the victims’ families, said to Mr Linden: “There was no syllabus, no specific training programme, no specific training of firearms inquiry officers.”

Mr Linden replied: “There was an absence of effective training, I will say that.”

Mr Adamson also asked: “Any person within Devon and Cornwall Police force who comes into contact with someone with a certificate, either firearms or shotgun, and is involved in an incident of violence or had mental health issues which are such they pose a risk, should have firearms certificate and ammunition and explosive removed from them?”

Mr Linden said: “Yes, it’s really quite straightforward.”

The inquest continues.