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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Rod Minchin

Keyham shooting: Dead father and daughter were cradling each other – witness

PA Archive

A father and his three-year-old daughter were found cradling each other after being shot dead by a gunman in a 12-minute killing spree, an inquest heard.

Lee and Sophie Martyn were both shot dead at close range by 22-year-old Jake Davison as they walked their family dog.

They had left their nearby home to walk their bulldog, Mabel, and Sophie was pushing her purple buggy with a teddy bear inside.

The Martyns were shot dead in Biddick Drive, in the Keyham area of Plymouth, on the evening of August 12 2021 just minutes after Davison had killed his own mother.

The inquest in Exeter has heard that several neighbours of Davison phoned 999 after hearing gunshots in the cul-de-sac.

Sharon Hellyer, who lives in Biddick Drive, was at home when she heard about 10 gunshots in quick succession.

Ms Hellyer went to her upstairs window where she saw Davison, whom she recognised, in the street walking out of the road towards the adjacent Linear Park.

In a written statement, Ms Hellyer told the court the apprentice crane operator appeared “calm” and was carrying a gun.

I walked over to the man and the little girl to try to help and as soon as I got closer, I could see there was no helping them
— Sharon Hellyer, witness

She went outside to speak to two other neighbours who were also alerted to gunshots.

“I then saw a woman to the right of me walking up to the right and she was covered in blood around the chest area, and she told me that she had been shot through her window,” Ms Hellyer said.

“I walked down Biddick Drive and immediately noticed a man and a tiny little girl cradling each other and I shouted, ‘Is anyone going to help them?’

“No response. There were loads of people outside their houses, standing and staring and they weren’t doing anything.

“I walked over to the man and the little girl to try to help and as soon as I got closer, I could see there was no helping them.

“The man had a headshot wound and the little girl was facing the man and they look really peaceful, it didn’t look real – they almost looked perfect in place.

“The dad still had his arm around the little girl. I used to work in a care home and I have seen a lot of dead bodies and I knew they were both dead.”

The inquest has heard Davison killed his mother Maxine, 51, after a row and then shot dead the four others in a 12-minute attack in Plymouth.

The Martyns were shot in Biddick Drive and then Stephen Washington, 59, was killed and finally Kate Shepherd, 66.

Davison then turned the pump-action shotgun on himself before armed police reached him.

The killings happened just weeks after Davison’s shotgun and gun licence had been returned by Devon and Cornwall Police.

They had been seized in 2020 after Davison assaulted two teenagers in a park.

He had applied for a shotgun certificate in July 2017 and one was issued in January 2018 that was valid for five years.

Social media usage by Davison suggested an obsession with “incel” culture – meaning “involuntary celibate” – as well as an interest in guns and the United States.

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