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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Fear of taxman led to murderous gun spree

Taxi driver killed 12 and injured 11 before shooting himself

Jonathan Brown in London

DERRICK BIRD feared his brother and solicitor were conspiring to have him sent to prison over unpaid tax -- prompting his murderous shooting spree through Cumbria last summer, in which he killed 12 people and injured 11 more before turning the gun on himself.

Before he embarked on the rampage, the 52-year-old taxi driver promised his accountant: "You will never see me again."

Yesterday, at the start of a four-week inquest into the 13 deaths, Bird was described as irrational -- his fears of jail and imminent financial ruin were unfounded.

Laying out details of the 13-hour rampage publicly for the first time, Detective Chief Superintendent Iain Goulding of Cumbria police described how, despite his "secure" financial position, Bird had become obsessed with his unresolved tax affairs.

Mr Goulding told the 11-member jury the taxi driver had enlisted his twin brother, David, his solicitor, Kevin Commons, and an accountant to help resolve his money worries.

He rang his twin 44 times in one day shortly before the murders and was spotted the next day deep in a "serious" conversation with his sibling, who was to become his first victim on June 2 -- the day he believed he was going to be arrested after a meeting with his solicitor.

According to Bird's son, Graeme, his father's state of mind had suddenly deteriorated.

"He was unsettled and would get out of the chair and have a walk about. Then he sat on the sofa and he just had his head in his hands. He thought he was being set up and he was going to attend this meeting and be arrested," he told the inquest.

Using CCTV footage, photographs and sophisticated graphics detailing the victims' wounds, Mr Goulding reconstructed Bird's movements.

He said Bird set out shortly after midnight, driving his blue Citroen Picasso taxi from his home in Rowrah. He had with him a 12-gauge sawn-off shotgun and a Czech-made 2.2 rifle with telescopic sight and sound moderator, both of which were licensed. He also had part of his legally held arsenal of ammunition.

Bird found his semi-naked brother asleep at his home in nearby Lamplugh and shot him 11 times.

At 5.05am he left the house and drove to his solicitor's farm at Frizington. Shortly after 10am Mr Commons (60) arrived and was shot at and pursued on foot. His body was later found with two bullets in his temple.

Bird then proceeded to kill 10 other innocent parties before heading into some nearby woods where he turned the gun on himself.

The inquest continues. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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