GP was not told Plymouth shooter had shotgun certificate, inquest hears

1 month ago

Jake Davison’s GP was never told that his patient, who went on to kill five people, had been granted a shotgun certificate after the doctor declined to provide an opinion on his suitability to own a weapon, an inquest has heard.

Dr Ben Dawson said he refused because he was not qualified to comment on the “assessment of behavioural and personality disorders”.

Davison had applied to Devon and Cornwall police for a shotgun certificate in July 2017 and declared he had autism and Asperger syndrome on his application form. He also gave consent for his GP to share information with police about his medical history.

The letter gave Dawson 21 days to reply if he had concerns but the GP wrote back saying: “I decline to provide the requested report because it seeks an opinion on matters falling outside my medical expertise – namely assessment of behavioural and personality disorders.”

Dawson told the inquest he was following advice from the British Medical Association and Devon local medical committee.

The GP said he was never told that Davison had been awarded a certificate or that it was later seized with the weapon and placed under review, and subsequently returned.

Five weeks after his pump-action shotgun and certificate were returned, the 22-year-old trainee crane operator killed five people in the Keyham area of Plymouth.

Davison first killed his mother, Maxine Davison, 51, then three-year-old Sophie Martyn, her father, Lee Martyn, 43, Stephen Washington, 59, and Kate Shepherd, 66, before turning the gun on himself.

The inquest in Exeter heard that Davison was first diagnosed with autism in 2011 and staff from the child and adolescent mental health service (Camhs) noted he had been playing violent computer games, “struggling to separate fact from fiction” and at 13 wanted to become a sniper.

A report was sent to Dawson, who discussed the findings with Davison and his mother. Notes of the appointment recorded he had an “obsession with firearms for some years”.

But the notes concluded: “In summary he is an adolescent young man with some marked difficulties within autism spectrum disorder. Jake does not pose as risk to himself or others.”

Answering questions at the inquest, Dawson agreed that knowledge of Davison’s autism would be a relevant consideration for the police in assessing his firearms application.

Asked whether the condition would be a serious concern, Dawson replied: “That’s asking for an opinion for which I don’t feel able to comment – it’s not my area of expertise.”

Juliet Wells, representing families of the victims, suggested Dawson “could have done more” to inform the police of Davison’s autism and other background information such as that highlighted by Camhs.

“My anticipation was to receive further contact from the police to request further information,” he replied.

The inquest continues.

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