Keyham shootings two years on: MP says it's going to take 'many, many decades' to recover

Floral tributes left in Keyham in 2021 Credit: PA

Plymouth MP Luke Pollard believes it's going to take "many, many decades" for people to recover from a mass shooting in Keyham but, speaking on its second-year anniversary, says the community is "stronger than it was".

Mr Pollard also spoke of the importance of reforming gun laws so another tragedy is avoided.

On 12 August 2021, In just eight minutes, Jake Davison, 22, killed his mother Maxine, 51, and then shot dead three-year-old Sophie Martyn, her father Lee, 43, Stephen Washington, 59, and Kate Shepherd, 66.

He then turned the weapon on himself as he was confronted by an unarmed police officer on August 12 2021 in the Keyham area of Plymouth.

Keyham victims. Top L-R: Father and daughter, Lee and Sophie Martyn, and Kate Shepherd. Bottom L-R: Maxine Davison and Stephen Washington.

The Plymouth MP says it's been a "really difficult" two years.

He explained: "Some people have healed and processed the events. Others are really struggling with the events of that day and because there were so many eye witnesses, it's not just people who have lost loved ones, people who were shot and survived, but the hundreds of people, especially children, who witnessed something that no child should ever see, coming to terms with what they saw, and this will take many years for our communities to recover.

"Two years has gone by fast but there's still a lot of healing and more support that needs to be put into Keyham to make sure we get the help that we need."

Devon and Cornwall Police were heavily criticised for giving the apprentice crane operator back his shotgun certificate weeks before he committed one of the UK’s worst mass shootings.

Jake Davison carried out one of the UK's worst mass shootings. Credit: PA

The families of those who died have spoken of their disappointment that this happened.

An inquest jury found there was a "seriously unsafe culture" in Devon and Cornwall Police's firearms licensing unit before the killing spree.

A review by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services said improvements have been made to Devon and Cornwall Police’s firearms licensing unit but concerns remain over a backlog in processing applications and the improper use of temporary permits.

Luke Pollard MP continued to say: "I think on the whole our community is now stronger than it was. We're looking after each other more."

"In the past year we've had the Keyham inquest provide some answers. That's given a bit more certainty to the community to understand why it happened and how it happened.

Plymouth MP Luke Pollard with Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police Shaun Sawyer and Home Secretary Priti Patel in 2021. Credit: PA

"We now need to continue to heal, continue to get the support that we need but most importantly to make sure that we're changing the gun laws so this doesn't happen to any other community as that needs to be the lasting legacy of the tragedy - to prevent it ever happen again."

The MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport said, while it's a good thing that some are being adopted, he would have preferred the government to take on all of the recommendations from the coroner's inquest.

He said: "What they certainly shouldn't do is adopt any less than they're proposing and they're consulting on.

"I want people in Plymouth and the South West to have their voices heard in the Home Office's current consultation around gun law reform.

"It's part of a solution, it doesn't go to the full extent that I would like and the campaign will continue but at every chance we have to improve our gun laws to keep people safer we should be seizing those with both hands to repeat the tragedy that happened in Plymouth."

Speaking of the community he represents he explained that "the trauma that we feel is a collective one."

He said: "The anniversary is a moment for us to support and remember the people we lost but also a chance to remind folks that if they do need help and support, that support is still available to them and that people shouldn't be struggling in silence.

"But it's going to take many, many decades for our community to get over this trauma and that means the support that's required needs to also last many, many decades and there's a lot more work to be done to make sure that's in place for as long as it needs to be."