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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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Killer of 12 was a convicted criminal

THE man who killed 12 people during a shooting spree was a convicted criminal with a firearms licence.

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Detective Superintendent Iain Goulding

Wielding a shotgun and a sniper rifle, Derrick Bird drove across the West Cumbrian countryside leaving a trail of victims in his wake.

His spree began in Lamplugh, where he killed his twin brother in his bed, before moving onto Frizington, Whitehaven, Egremont, Gosforth and Seascale, gunning down 12 people and injuring 11 others.

His rampage ended in the rural hamlet of Boot, where he turned the gun on himself as armed officers closed in.

The world’s media has been gripped by the actions of an apparently “easy-going” and “quiet” man.

The day’s events have already been described as the worst mass murder in the UK since 16 schoolchildren and their teacher were killed at Dunblane in 1996.

Police have vowed to investigate possible financial and domestic issues that may have led Bird to carry out the crimes but the detective leading the investigation admitted the exact reasons may never be known.

Detective Chief Superintendent Iain Goulding, a former Barrow superintendent, revealed Bird had a firearms licence and shotgun certificate, despite having a criminal record dating back to 1990.

Det Ch Supt Goulding told a press conference, in Whitehaven, yesterday: “A key part of the ‘why’ in this investigation is trying to establish whether those tragically killed were chosen because of a motive, because of a grudge or were simply random killings.

“Our initial assessment is we have a combination of both. But I’m not speculating further at this time.”

The detective said Bird had never been to prison and police had found no record of any mental health problems, contact with mental health agencies, or medication.

But he refused to comment on the killer’s motives for the shootings and failed to answer questions from journalists as to whether he left a suicide note.

He said: “We are aware there is much speculation about the motive behind this crime. We hear rumours of finance and domestic.

“We are aware of those things and they are all proper lines of investigation for us, but we will not be speculating.”

A team of more than 100 detectives, assisted by 30 family liaison officers and uniformed constables from across the county, is now trying to piece together the circumstances surrounding Wednesday’s events. Police have identified more than 30 crime scenes along 25 miles of the west coast of Cumbria.

Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, Cumbria’s Chief Constable, Craig Mackey said: “The events of yesterday morning are utterly tragic and our thoughts, condolences and prayers are with the loved ones of those who were injured or lost their lives.

“We have invested all our resources into a full and comprehensive investigation to piece together a picture of what happened yesterday morning in West Cumbria so that we can try to understand what could drive Derrick Bird to take the lives of 12 innocent people and injure 11 more. As always, the communities we serve have demonstrated their strength, support and compassion for each other, and for the emergency services who worked so hard in incredibly harrowing circumstances. I’d like to thank our communities for their help so far but we need their continued support to be able to understand why – and how – this happened.”

Of the 11 people injured, five had gunshot wounds to the face, one had a gunshot wound to the arm, two had been shot in the back, one had been shot in the back and arm and one had a gunshot wound to the chest.

Last night NHS Cumbria said six patients remained in hospital, with two in a stable condition and the other four being described as comfortable.

In a statement released last night, Ray Cole, chairman of Cumbria Police Authority, said: “On behalf of Cumbria Police Authority, I would like to extend the most sincere condolences and sympathy to the families and friends of those who have been injured or taken so cruelly in such tragic circumstances.

“I've lived in Cumbria all my life and have never witnessed anything like the atrocity that unfolded in West Cumbria yesterday morning. Our county is renowned for being a safe, pleasant place to live and its surreal that something this devastating can happen on our doorsteps.

“Cumbria Constabulary has yet again shown the world how well they are able to respond in the face of a major, complex incident. The dedication and professionalism of the hundreds of officers and staff who have worked around the clock is second to none, and I am proud to see how sensitively the incident has been handled.

“The police authority will offer its full support to the constabulary and do whatever possible to support the officers and staff and their extended families who have been affected by this incident.”

Anyone with information who has not already come forward is asked to contact police on 0845 33 00 247.

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