Keyham inquest: 'No indication at all' gunman would carry out deadly attack

Jake Davison carried out the deadly attack in Keyham

A gunman's former teacher has told an inquest there was 'no indication at all' that Jake Davison would carry out a deadly attack when she spoke to him the day before he shot and killed five people in Plymouth.

The jury has today (27 January) been hearing evidence from Josephine Duffy who taught Davison for six years at Mount Tamar School in Plymouth.

Ms Duffy said she had been left 'completely devastated' after the shooting in August 2021, saying there was no indication that he would carry out such an attack.

The Keyham tragedy left six people dead. On 12 August Jake Davison killed his mother Maxine after a row, then shot dead four others in a 12-minute attack before turning the gun on himself.

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

Davison's teacher, Ms Duffy, told the inquest that Jake Davison 'had difficulties controlling his behaviour' due to a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder.

Tributes left in Keyham after the shooting

But by the time he left, aged 16, she said he had made progress and was 'well-liked, funny, clever, intelligent and inquisitive.'

She said he had a keen interest in guns, artillery and the history of weapons, and talked about wanting to own a gun shop or rifle range.

"He had a big collection of spent ammunition going back to civil war musket balls", she said.

"He did an assembly and showed his collection to staff and students. He was able to talk in a very erudite way about that.

"I have heard the word obsession used. But it is part of autism that people have highly-focused special interests.

"With autistic students, rather than take away their interest, you would try to work with it.

"It’s comforting, it’s their happy place, they feel relaxed and calm, they can use it to relate to other people."

The inquest jury also heard Davison was given a positive reference from Ms Duffy when he applied for a shotgun licence.

Three years after leaving school, Davison contacted Ms Duffy through Facebook to ask her to be a referee on his shotgun licence application.

She visited Davison and his mother, Maxine, at their home in Keyham and said he seemed 'happy and relaxed'.

"He was clean shaven, he had been going to the gym, he said he had an apprenticeship with a scaffolder and was doing well," she said.

Ms Duffy believed Jake wanted to own a gun to go clay pigeon shooting with his uncle in Cornwall, and that his mum agreed.

The Weatherby pump action shotgun, top, used by Jake Davison in the killings next to a standard sporting style 12-gauge shotgun Credit: Plymouth HM Coroner/PA

The jury was told that a firearms licensing officer from Devon and Cornwall Police contacted Ms Duffy, noting she was 'extremely positive' about Davison and made no reference to his history of violence.

Asked whether she should have mentioned that Davison had been involved in fights and assaults at school aged 12 and 13, she said: "I didn’t have access to all the information I should have had. I didn’t know at the time what was available."

After providing the reference, Ms Duffy said she did not hear from Davison for four years until he contacted her on the day before the shooting.

"I had a message asking if I would assist with his passport application," she said.

"I tried, but as I have an Irish passport I couldn’t do it online. I said I could help with a paper form, but he said 'No it’s ok, I’ll ask somebody else, thank you.'

"As usual he was very polite, thanked me for my help, didn’t seem agitated.

"The next day I was completely devastated because there was no indication at all.’

The inquest continues.