Incel was granted a firearms licence despite 'unhealthy' gun obsession

Incel mass murderer was granted a firearms licence despite ‘unhealthy’ gun obsession and fears about online chats with ‘rednecks in America’ that saw him referred to counter-terror programme Prevent, inquest hears

  • Jake Davison was approved for a licence by police in 2017 when he was just 18 
  • Despite concerns having been raised about his ‘unhealthy’ view of firearms 
  • He went on to kill five people, including a toddler, during rampage in Plymouth 

An incel mass murderer was granted a firearms licence despite a childhood obsession with guns that led to fears he was being groomed by terrorists, an inquest heard.

Jake Davison was approved for a licence in 2017 when he was just 18. This was despite concerns having been raised a year earlier about his ‘unhealthy’ view of firearms – leading to not-for-profit organisation Careers South West taking ‘unprecedented action’ to try to refer him to Prevent in 2016.

At the time, it was deemed Davison did not meet the criteria for a formal referral and Devon and Cornwall Police went ahead with issuing his licence.  

Four years later – after his Weatherby pump-action shotgun was returned to him despite an allegation of assault – he went on to kill five people, including a toddler, during a murderous rampage through the streets of Plymouth, Devon. 

Jake Davison was approved for a licence in 2017 when he was just 18

On his gun licence application, Davison had self-declared his medical conditions, including autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).       

Taking to the witness stand on the fourth day of the inquest into his five victims, Chief Supt Roy Linden, of Devon and Cornwall Police, admitted officers should have sought an opinion from a GP.  

He 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’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.’

The Weatherby pump action shotgun (top) used by Jake Davison next to a police issue tactical single barrel 12-gauge pump action shotgun (below)

Davison was caught on CCTV as he walked down a road carrying the weapon 

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.’

Mr Adamson said: ‘The risk is so obvious. The whole point about firearms licensing is it’s there to prevent weapons being in the possession of people who are not fit to have them and can not be trusted?’

The officer confirmed that was ‘correct.’

The inquest heard local police force teams were responsible for deciding whether to grant or refuse licences but any health condition could identify the person as ‘high risk.’

Lee Martyn and his daughter Sophie were among those shot and killed by gunman Davison 

Davison’s mother Maxine  was the first to be killed following a row, before he went on a killing spree

Three-year-old Sophie Martyn and her father Lee, 43, were shot dead in front of horrified onlookers as they walked their pet dog

Chief Supt Linden said he wanted ‘this tragic incident in Plymouth to drive improvements in firearms licensing in Devon and Cornwall and across the country.’

He acknowledged there had been issues dealing with such a large amount of applications due to ‘backlogs’ in the system and a ‘shortage of staff’.

The inquest had earlier heard details about the eight minute killing spree through the streets of Plymouth.

Davison’s first victim was his own mother Maxine, 51, who he shot after a row at their home on August 12, 2021.

In the minutes that followed Davison, an apprentice crane operator, shot dead strangers Sophie Martyn, three, and her father Lee Martyn, 43, on the street as they were walking their dog.

Kate Shepherd, 66, was Davison’s final victim, and was gunned down by Blush hair salon in Plymouth

Stephen Washington (pictured) was among the five victims shot to death by Davison in August 2021

He then killed Stephen Washington, 59, a full-time carer for his wife, by shooting him in the chest in a nearby park as he walked his two dogs.

Artist Katherine Shepherd, 66, was then shot, and later died, at Derriford Hospital from a gunshot wound to her stomach.

A 33-year-old man, and a 53-year-old woman, were also shot and wounded before Davison turned the gun on himself and ended his own life at the age of 22.

The inquest, at Exeter Racecourse, continues.

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