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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Plymouth shooting: Firearms licence officer says he had no training

Biddick DrivePA Media

The firearms enquiry officer involved in issuing a shotgun licence to a man who killed five people did not receive any training, an inquest has heard.

Jake Davison, 22, had a licence for the pump-action weapon he used in the shooting in Keyham, Plymouth, in 2021.

David Rees worked as a firearms enquiry officer at Devon and Cornwall Police.

He told the inquest he learned the role “on the job”, and he wished a different decision had been made over the licence being reissued to Davison that year.

The jury hearing into the deaths of the victims, being held at Exeter Racecourse, was told former police officer and Royal Marine Mr Rees was a firearms enquiry officer from May 2016 until he later left the force.

Bridget Dolan KC, acting on behalf of the coroner, asked him: “What training were you given in 2016?”

He replied: “Nothing I would describe as training. It was done in a mentoring or buddy system – learning on the job.”

Court artist drawing by Elizabeth Cook of David Rees, a firearms information officer, giving evidence at Exeter Racecourse in Kennford, Devon, for the inquest into the deaths of five people shot dead by Jake Davison in Plymouth in August 2021

Elizabeth Cook/PA Media

Mr Rees said there was no training given relating to subjects such as domestic violence or for following a national decision-making model for gun licences.

He said he had “made an attempt” to start an internet-based course but said there were “no direct questions” and it was “very difficult to understand”.

Mr Rees said the course “fell by the wayside” after he spent a few hours on it.

Mr Rees also said he wished he had acted differently when returning Davison’s license in July 2021, following it being taken from him after he violently assaulted two teenagers.

Davison attacked a 16-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl in September 2020 after one of them called him “fat”, the hearing was told.

In a letter dated 1 July 2021, Mr Rees wrote to his superiors to say Davison had paid compensation to the victims and had completed a “thinking skills” course.

Mr Rees wrote that Davison “expressed regret at his actions and fully understood that as a certificate holder he must have a high degree of personal discipline and responsibility”.

Davison was given his licence back one month before he killed his five victims.


The assault was captured on CCTV and Mr Rees told the inquest he had not watched the footage until “last week”.

“I was quite shocked by the ferocity of the assault and I wish I had questioned the decision-making process,” he said.

The inquest also heard Mr Rees had no prior knowledge of autism and Asperger’s syndrome but did his own research when considering Davison’s application.

Davison had declared his autism in his licence application.

In August 2021, Davison killed his 51-year-old mother Maxine, three-year-old Sophie Martyn, her father, Lee, 43, Stephen Washington, 59, and Kate Shepherd, 66, before turning his shotgun on himself.

The inquest, which is due to hear more evidence from Mr Rees on Tuesday, continues.

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