A taxi driver gunned down by Derrick Bird had “bragged” about slashing the tyres on the killer's car, an inquest heard yesterday.
Darren Rewcastle (43) was overheard saying he had “done” the tyres on Bird's Citroen Picasso.
Stephen Brew, a fellow taxi driver and acquaintance of Bird, said the gunman complained that replacing them was costing him more money than he was making.
Bird named Mr Rewcastle as responsible, pleading to his friend: “What am I to do?”
Mr Brew told the court: “I have heard Darren saying it to other people on the rank, that he had darted Birdy's tyres.”
After the cold-blooded murder of his twin David and solicitor Kevin Commons (60), Bird drove to the rank in Whitehaven where he and Mr Rewcastle both worked.
He called the victim over to his cab and blasted him twice with a shotgun in the face and stomach.
Bird (52) went on to injure three more taxi drivers in the town, killing 12 people before turning the gun on himself on June 2 |last year.
Mr Brew told the inquest into the deaths that he often chatted with Bird. He described Bird as a “nice guy, very quiet” but added: “He would bottle stuff up.”
The inquest has already heard a variety of reasons why Bird may have gone on the rampage.
He was convinced he was going to jail for not paying enough tax and thought his brother and solicitor Mr Commons had “stitched him up” over the matter.
The hearing at the Energus centre in Workington, Cumbria, has been told that Bird was also worried about his mother's ill-health.
And he was also bullied and taunted by a “clique” of other taxi drivers in Whitehaven, the inquest has heard, prompting him to warn: “They are going to get it, big style.”
Bird had the tyres on his car punctured with a sharp dart on five occasions, among other damage. Mr Brew said once he helped his friend change his tyres.
“Did he say who he thought was responsible?” coroner David Roberts asked.
“Yes,” Mr Brew replied. “He said Darren was bragging that he had done his tyres. It was open knowledge on the rank.”
The witness said Bird also complained that his brother David did not pull his weight in looking after their frail mother and he was “doing everything” for her.
The inquest, expected to last four weeks, is also investigating the deaths of Bird's other victims.
They are: Susan Hughes (57); Kenneth Fishburn (71); Isaac Dixon (65); Jennifer Jackson (68) and her husband James (67); Garry Purdham (31); Jamie Clark (23); Michael Pike (64) and Jane Robinson (66).