Community of Keyham ‘could take years to recover’ after mass shooting

Five people, including a three-year-old girl, were killed by Jake Davison when he went on a shooting spree in Plymouth on August 12 last year.

11 February 2022

Six months on from one of the UK’s worst mass shootings, it could take many years for the community of Keyham in Plymouth to recover, according to the council leader.

On August 12 last year Jake Davison, 22, killed his mother, Maxine Davison, 51, after a row and then shot dead four others in a 12-minute attack.

Three-year-old Sophie Martyn, her father Lee, 43, Stephen Washington, 59, and Kate Shepherd, 66, all died.

Five people died in the shooting spree which began in Biddick Drive (Ben Birchall/PA)
Five people died in the shooting spree which began in Biddick Drive (Ben Birchall/PA)

The apprentice crane operator then turned the pump-action shotgun on himself before armed officers reached him.

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

There was also a groundswell of compassion from national leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

In the wake of the tragedy, nearly £2 million has been pledged in Government support to help Keyham and the surrounding areas recover from the events of six months ago, which were witnessed by up to 300 people.

Nearly £800,000 is to be spent on children’s services, such as on mental health support, and £1 million has been pledged for community safety and policing.

Several inquiries are underway into how Jake Davison was legally able to own a pump action shotgun (PA)
Several inquiries are under way into how Jake Davison was legally able to own a pump-action shotgun (PA)

Councillor Nick Kelly, leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “Keyham and the surrounding communities have shown incredible resilience as they recover from the atrocity.

“While the recovery of Keyham, Ford and the surrounding areas from what happened on August 12 will take many months, even years, we have now begun the process of recovery.”

Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP Luke Pollard said Keyham was a community still very much in grief.

“There are some people who have processed and moved on from what happened, but there are other families and individuals for whom they’re still scared to leave their homes or allow their kids to play out,” he said.

“That is a real challenge because the trauma that we faced last year is going to be long lasting and that is going to affect the community not just for months or years but for decades to come.

“We are at the very start of our healing process but we’re also at the very start learning what went wrong.

“There will be a lot more difficult days ahead and for many people the six month anniversary will be important just to pause, remember the victims.”

As Keyham looks forward there are plans for a permanent memorial to those who died, Mr Kelly confirmed.

“While we are supporting the area in its recovery and looking forward, it is important that we never forget what happened in Keyham six months ago,” he said.

“A permanent memorial to those who lost their lives is currently being discussed through consultation with the families, the survivors and the community.”

Hundreds of bouquets of flowers and candles were left at various locations around Keyham in tribute to the five who died.

Hundreds of floral tributes were left in Keyham (Ben Birchall/PA)
Hundreds of floral tributes were left in Keyham (Ben Birchall/PA)

They were removed and preserved in archives of The Box museum and art gallery in Plymouth.

Mr Kelly said the support from the council, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Neighbourhood Watch would continue for as long as it is needed.

“Residents have told us how much they appreciate the work being done in the community,” he said.

“As a council we are committed to being there for our residents for as long as it takes.”

A package is being offered to residents of Keyham to come to terms with what happened on August 12 2021 (Ben Birchall/PA)
A package is being offered to residents of Keyham to come to terms with what happened on August 12 2021 (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mr Pollard, who represents the Keyham area, said he wanted to ensure children and schools get the support they need.

“We’ve got some brilliant schools and teachers are working their socks off to support the children, especially those closely connected to the victims or those who witnessed appalling scenes in their very community,” he said.

“We know their life chances have been fundamentally changed but we can limit the damage and we can provide more opportunities for those kids if we get the help and support in there early and sustain it.

“In the days following the shooting really big promises were made by those people in power from Government to the local council and we make sure that support keeps flowing and it’s there for whenever anyone needs it.”

The killings happened just weeks after the shotgun and licence had been returned to Davison by Devon and Cornwall Police.

They had been seized in 2020 after Davison assaulted two teenagers in a park.

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

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

As well as the coroner and IOPC’s investigations, the National Police Chiefs’ Council is also leading an inquiry, in conjunction with the local police and crime commissioner, into the force’s firearms policies and procedures.

Davison had received mental health support during the coronavirus lockdown.

His social media usage suggested an obsession with “incel” culture, meaning “involuntary celibate”, as well as an interest in guns and the US.

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