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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Inquests opened into Cumbrian shooting deaths

Inquests in to the deaths of Derrick Bird’s 12 victims were opened and adjourned yesterday.

David Roberts, north and west Cumbria coroner, also opened an inquest into Bird’s death - but he did this separate to his victims.

Some of the victim’s families were at Whitehaven Magistrates’ Court for the opening of the inquests but none of them wanted their identities known to the media when Mr Roberts asked.

Sat to Mr Roberts’ right, the families bowed their heads as Detective Chief Inspector Jeffrey Ashton gave evidence of identity for each of the 12 people who lost their lives.

DCI Ashton read all of the victim’s full names, date of birth, where they died, who identified them and where they were identified, under oath from the witness box.

At the 15-minute hearing, Mr Roberts said that initial post-mortem examinations revealed that all of the victims died from “wounds from firearm.”

Speaking at the packed inquest, Mr Roberts said: “Today is a very solemn occasion for the town of Whitehaven and west Cumbria generally and outer villages affected by the incidents of June 2 when these deaths all occurred.”

He said that once the inquests were opened, families could make funeral arrangements.

All 12, with the exception of Egremont woman Susan Hughes, were identified last Thursday afternoon at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

Ms Hughes, 57, was identified by her cousin on the day of Bird’s killing spree at the spot where she died.

James and Jennifer Jackson, of Wilton, were identified by their son. Christopher. 19 minutes apart; Egremont man Isaac Dixon, who was killed at Carleton, was identified by his eldest son, Martin; Garry John Purdham was identified by his wife Roselyn and Michael James Pike was identified by his son, Jason.

Seascale woman Jane Robinson’s twin sister Barrie identified her, Kenneth Fishburn, of Egremont, was identified by his nephew Trevor Sockett and 23-year-old James Clark, who was killed on Gosforth Road, was identified by his father Richard.

The twin brother of Derrick Bird, David Bird, was identified by his wife Susan; taxi driver Darren Rewcastle, 43, was identified by his brother-in-law Kevin Moore and Kevin Commons’ ex-partner Helen identified him.

The coroner then briefly rose before opening and adjourning the inquest into gunman Derrick Bird.

Two of the victims’ families got up at this point and left the court room.

After a couple of minutes’ absence, Mr Roberts told the court that Bird had also died from “wounds from firearm” in woodland at Penny Hill Farm, at Boot.

He was formally identified by his eldest son Graeme at 5.40pm on Thursday at Furness General Hospital in Barrow.

Mr Roberts adjourned the inquests and told the families that it will take months before the inquest takes place because of the “substantial inquiries that need to be conducted.”

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