Vicar speaks of grief and loss as Keyham remembers shooting tragedy one year on

·3-min read
People take part in a minute’s silence (PA) (PA Archive)
People take part in a minute’s silence (PA) (PA Archive)

Although a year has passed since five people were killed in one of Britain’s worst mass shootings, the grief and loss remains as raw, a vicar has said.

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

Sophie Martyn, three, her father Lee, 43, Stephen Washington, 59, and Kate Shepherd, 66, all died.

People will be gathering at the Minister Church of St Andrew for a civic service to remember those that died in the Keyham tragedy (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Archive)
People will be gathering at the Minister Church of St Andrew for a civic service to remember those that died in the Keyham tragedy (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Archive)

Davison, 22, an apprentice crane operator, then turned his pump-action shotgun on himself before armed officers reached him.

Plymouth will mark the milestone with a civic ceremony at the Minster Church of St Andrew and a community vigil in North Down Crescent Park.

Reverend Joe Dent, the rector of the church, said: “Well, a year ago when the events unfolded on the streets of Keyham there was a real sense of shock and horror and grief.

“I think that a year on that sense of grief and loss is still just as real.

“So, this service is going to be an opportunity for those who want to come to be able to express their grief together, their sense of loss together, to pay tribute and to pray together.

“I know that there are various events taking part in the city but hopefully this service will be a time when those who have been most deeply affected – either families who have been bereaved or those who survived the horrific events are those who responded to it can come together and find a sense of ability to express their sadness and respect.”

People will also gather for a vigil on Friday evening in Keyham (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Archive)
People will also gather for a vigil on Friday evening in Keyham (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Archive)

Rev Dent said that although it was a civic service, it would be a very personal one to the families of those who died with them choosing pieces of music to remember their loved ones.

“We felt that a year on it was very appropriate to look back to think about the present and to look forward so we’re going to be lighting three candles – one for the past, one for the present and one for the future,” he said.

“So, looking backward in memory, thinking about the present the way that people, communities and authorities have responded to the situation and then looking forward to the months and years ahead.

“We all know that things like this don’t just go away but people need love and encouragement for a long, long, long, long time.”

Councillor Richard Bingley, leader of Plymouth City Council, said Friday “will be a very difficult time for many and our thoughts are with the families, the survivors and the communities of Keyham, Ford and the surrounding areas”.

“The anniversary will be a time for people to come together, or just reflect quietly, and remember loved ones following this devastating event,” he added.

The killings led to outpourings of sympathy and offers of help from across the community.

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

Earlier this week, Mr Washington’s family spoke of their loss and thanked the community for their love and support.

“We miss Stephen every day and we are still struggling to come to terms with the tragic events of that fateful day,” the said.

“The grandchildren miss him dreadfully as they miss his fun and games and tickle sessions.

“We know as a family we will support each other through.”

Since the shooting, which was seen by up to 300 people, nearly £2 million has been pledged in Government support to help Keyham and the surrounding areas recover.

The atrocity happened weeks after a shotgun and licence were returned to Davison by Devon and Cornwall Police.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating how the force approved his application and gave him back the licence and shotgun.

Police will now have to check someone’s medical history before issuing a gun licence, the Home Office announced.

Davison had received mental health support during the coronavirus lockdown.

Social media usage suggested an obsession with incel – or involuntary celibate – culture, as well as an interest in guns and the US.

His mother had reported him in November 2016 to the Government’s counter-terrorism Prevent programme, which aims to stop people becoming terrorists, months before he applied for a shotgun licence.