Gun victim ‘slashed tyres on killer’s cab’

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A TAXI driver gunned down by Derrick Bird had “bragged” about slashing the tyres on the killer’s car, an inquest has heard.

Darren Rewcastle, 43, was overheard saying he had “done” the tyres on Bird’s Citroen Picasso.

Stephen Brew, a fellow taxi driver and friend of Bird, said the gunman complained that replacing them was costing him more than he was making on the job.

Bird named Mr Rewcastle as responsible, pleading to his friend: “What am I to do?”

Mr Brew told the hearing: “I have heard Darren saying it to other people on the rank, that he had darted Birdy’s tyres.”

After murdering his twin David and solicitor Kevin Commons, 60, Bird drove to the taxi 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 other taxi drivers in the town, killing 12 people before turning the gun on himself on June 2 last year.

The inquest into all 13 deaths, now in its fourth day, has heard a number of reasons why Bird may have gone on the shooting spree.

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 elderly mother’s ill-health.

And Bird 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 punctured 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.”

Mr Brew also said Bird had his car radiator punctured with a screwdriver. The hearing resumes on Monday.