Woman blasted at point-blank range by her shotgun-toting estranged husband calls for new gun laws after Plymouth shooting
- Rachel Williams, from Chepstow, was shot by her estranged husband in 2011
- After shooting her, he fled and was found dead in nearby woods six hours later
- The couple’s son Jack, 16, took his own life at the same spot six weeks after that
- Ms Williams is now calling for stricter gun laws following the Plymouth shootings
A woman who survived being shot by her estranged husband wants tougher gun laws following the Plymouth shooting.
Plymouth incel Jake Davison, 22, who was licensed to own a gun for clay pigeon shooting, shot and killed five people before killing himself on August 12.
Rachel Williams, 48, from Chepstow, now wants changes to gun laws including for firearms to be kept at gun clubs and not at home.
Domestic abuse counsellor and campaigner Ms Williams was badly injured when her estranged husband Darren burst into her Newport hair salon and opened fire in 2011.
A six-hour search followed before he was found dead in nearby woods. Her son Jack, 16, was found dead at the same spot six weeks later having taken his own life.
In a petition, Ms Williams has called for anyone with a history of domestic abuse, violence, mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, or drug or alcohol misuse to be prohibited from having a licence and for licences to be reapplied for every other year.
Rachel Williams, 48, from Chepstow, was badly injured when her estranged husband Darren burst into her Newport hair salon and opened fire in 2011
Darren Williams (left) took his own life after shooting his estranged wife Rachel. She is now calling for stricter gun laws after incel killer Jake Davison’s (right) horrific Plymouth shooting spree
She said some exemptions should be made in some instances for owners including farmers and shooting sports professionals.
The Home Office is preparing new guidance to ensure higher standards of decision making around applications.
There will be advice on carrying out social media checks on people wanting to own a firearm or shotgun.
Speaking about her experience and son’s death, she said: ‘My left leg was blasted at point-blank range, most of my shin was gone, I’d lost my knee, all they salvaged was my kneecap.
‘That’s [her son’s death] the biggest impact for me. That will always outweigh any injuries physically or mentally for me.
‘Nobody expects that when you leave an abusive partner your child’s going to commit suicide because of it.’
Ms Williams said she was moved to create the petition by Davidson’s 12-minute attack.
Davison started his killing spree by breaking down the door of his mother Maxine’s house in Biddick Drive and murdering her.
Armed with a shotgun, he then went out into the street and killed Sophie Martyn, aged three, and her father, Lee Martyn, 43, who bravely tried to shield his daughter from the bullets.
A six-hour search followed before Darren was found dead in nearby woods. Their son Jack, 16, was found dead at the same spot six weeks later having taken his own life
Speaking about her experience, she said: ‘My left leg was blasted at point-blank range, most of my shin was gone, I’d lost my knee, all they salvaged was my kneecap’
Davison then killed Stephen Washington, 59, in a nearby park before shooting 66-year-old Kate Shepherd, who later died at Derriford Hospital.
He then turned the gunman on himself.
Ms Williams said: ‘To think it was people going about their daily lives, a little girl killed on a walk with her dad.
‘When you’ve been shot like I have myself and you know your life can be taken away within a second – I can’t get my head around why somebody needs a gun.
‘Police officers, trained marksmen, they don’t take their guns home with them, they’ve got to sign these guns in and out – why is somebody else allowed to have a gun in the home, what do they need it for?’
‘We know a lot of firearms get stolen in house burglaries, like the one in my shooting,’ she said.
The British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC), which is based in Rossett, Wrexham, said: ‘It is in the shooting community’s interest to ensure public safety.’
The organisation added there was a gap in the current licensing system and called for a statutory obligation on GPs to put a so-called marker on a gun applicants’ medical notes.
It said: ‘Their participation in the process is wholly voluntary and many GPs refuse to participate.
‘Since the introduction of medical verification in 2016 the system has been in disarray.’
Gunman Jake Davison, 22, launched a horrific killing spree in the Keyham area of the city, shooting and killing five people before turning his shotgun on himself
Just a month after his gun was returned he would go on to take the lives of his mother, Maxine Davison, 51, Stephen Washington, 59, Kate Shepherd, 66, Lee Martyn, 43, and three-year-old Sophie Martyn, before turning the gun on himself in one of the UK’s worst mass shooting in recent memory
Last week, it emerged police took three months to seize Plymouth incel Davison’s gun and licence off him despite him attacking two teenagers in a park.
An inquest into the deaths of his victims was told how police gave his weapon and certificate back to him just weeks before his rampage because he completed a taxpayer-funded course designed to reduce reoffending.
The police watchdog revealed how the 22-year-old’s shotgun and licence were only seized in December last year when concerns were raised directly with Devon and Cornwall Police.
Davison had been taking part in a voluntary intervention programme – an alternative to being charged or cautioned – after admitting assaulting two youths in a park in Plymouth last September.
Davison had the gun under a ‘sporting licence’ designed to be used for clay pigeon shooting.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said Devon and Cornwall Police had offered the apprentice crane operator a place on its Pathfinder scheme.
But at the end of November last year, a scheme worker raised concerns with the force’s firearms licensing department about Davison’s possession of a shotgun, and the weapon and certificate were seized by police on December 7.
Davison first murdered his own mother, Maxine, at her home nearby, before going outside and randomly killing schoolgirl Sophie Martyn, her father Lee, 43, and dog walker Stephen Washington. He then crossed a road to a hair salon where he shot and fatally injured Kate Shepherd, 66
After completing the Pathfinder scheme in March 2021 and a subsequent review by the firearms licensing department, the shotgun and certificate were returned to Davison on July 9.
Just a month later he would go on to take the lives of his mother, Maxine Davison, 51, Stephen Washington, 59, Kate Shepherd, 66, Lee Martyn, 43, and three-year-old Sophie Martyn, before turning the gun on himself.
The police watchdog confirmed the killer first applied for a shotgun certificate in July 2017.
The application was then processed by Devon and Cornwall Police and a certificate was issued to him in January 2018, valid for five years.
The IOPC investigation centres around what police actions were taken and when, the rationale behind police decision-making, and whether relevant law, policy and procedures were followed concerning Davison’s possession of a shotgun.
It is also examining any sharing of information between the part of the force aware Davison had been identified as a suspect for assault and the relevant department responsible for firearms licensing.
A spokesperson said: ‘The investigation will consider what background and suitability checks were made by the police including from open source material, and whether the force had any information, from Mr Davison’s GP and any other medical or mental health services he may have engaged with, concerning his state of mind.
‘It will also look at the force decision to divert Mr Davison from prosecution for the assaults last year.’
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