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Plymouth shootings: 'Not enough staff' to deal with gun licences

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The police department that returned a shotgun licence to a man who carried out a mass shooting did not have enough staff, an inquest has heard.

Jake Davison had his licence revoked in 2020 but police returned it in 2021.

Davison, 22, killed his mother Maxine, 51, and then shot dead four others in Plymouth.

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

Thursday was the third day of inquests being held into their deaths.

A senior police officer told the hearing there had been a backlog of licence applications when Davison first applied in 2017.

Ch Supt Roy Linden, from Devon and Cornwall Police, was questioned about the number of applications for firearms or shotgun licences.

Flowers lay next to Biddick Drive sign

He said in 2017 there were about 3,000 applications per year and the force had the highest number of holders of certificates for firearms or shotguns in the UK.

The counsel to the inquest, Bridget Dolan KC, who is asking questions on behalf of the coroner, said: “Were there sufficient staff to deal with 3,000 applications?”

Ch Supt Linden replied: “The simple answer is no.”

He said there was a backlog of applications within Devon and Cornwall Police, but the force was not unique in the country.


Ch Supt Linden added the problem had only got worse over time.

He told the inquest: “It’s still the condition today, I think they have probably increased.”

Before he gave evidence Ch Supt Linden addressed the families of the victims.

He said the force “recognises the trauma that has been caused by this incident”.

He added: “It’s our intention that this tragic incident will serve to drive improvements in firearms licencing both in Devon and Cornwall and nationally.”

The inquest hearing at Exeter Racecourse continues.

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