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Bird probe calls for gun law change

A change in the law to prevent criminals who receive suspended jail terms from holding a gun licence for five years should be introduced, a report into the killings of Derrick Bird has recommended.

The taxi driver, who shot dead 12 people in a shooting spree in west Cumbria, was sentenced 20 years ago to six months in prison suspended for a year when he was convicted of stealing decorating materials from his then employer.

He also had a drink-driving conviction and had been arrested over claims he demanded payment with menaces after a customer made off from his cab without paying.

But Bird, 52, was allowed to keep his shotgun certificate, which he acquired just short of his 17th birthday, because neither of his convictions warranted an immediate custodial sentence to trigger an automatic ban on him keeping guns.

An independent review ordered by Cumbria Constabulary proposed that anyone who is handed a jail term of three months and upwards which is wholly suspended should be prohibited from possessing licensed weapons for five years.

Meanwhile, more details of Bird's rampage were revealed, including his bid to retrieve one of his three shotguns, which he had transferred to another certificate holder the night before the events of June 2.

It emerged he tried to recover the gun shortly after he committed the first two murders, killing his solicitor Kevin Commons and his twin brother David.

Bird went to the person's house and a two-minute conversation followed before he was refused access to the gun and went on his way towards Whitehaven.

The Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary, Craig Mackey, said he did not believe the person was aware of the gunman's crazed intentions and said the event would be explored further at next year's inquest into the shootings.

Police also said Bird fired a total of 54 rounds of ammunition from the two weapons he used in the attacks - 23 rounds from his .22 rifle and 31 12-gauge rounds from his side-by-side hammer action shotgun which he illegally shortened the barrels of in the hours before the murders.


From Belfast Telegraph