I thought gun killer was on way back for me

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The wife of a diving club colleague of mass killer Derrick Bird has told an inquest how she ran away in terror as the gunman’s vehicle reversed at speed towards her.

Moments before, Bird had arrived at the house of Jason Carey, diving officer at the Solway Sub-Aqua Club where Bird was a member and had fallen out with the committee.

Bird sounded his taxi horn but Mr Carey, having worked a night shift at Sellafield, was in bed and did not answer, an inquest was told.

By the time his wife Deborah got to the door, Bird was already driving off on the morning of June 2 last year.

He reached the bottom of Mr Carey’s drive in the picturesque village of Wilton and then almost immediately shot Jennifer Jackson, 68, once in the chest with his shotgun and twice in the head with his .22 rifle.

Bird drove a short distance up the hill where he coincidentally came across Mrs Jackson’s husband, James, 67, who was talking to neighbour Christine Hunter-Hall and her husband, Stephen, outside their front garden.

Bird pointed the shotgun out of the driver’s window and shot Mr Jackson in the forehead, killing him instantly.

Mrs Hunter-Hall was hit in the back and suffered extensive injuries but survived.

Giving evidence at the inquests into the deaths of Bird and the 12 victims he gunned down on his shooting spree, Mrs Carey said she saw the taxi pull away from her house and heard a bang when Mrs Jackson was shot but thought it was the sound of a car door and did not notice her body.

She said: “I walked to the bottom of our drive and I looked up and I could see a small part of the car and I could see Steve and Christine stood in their garden. There was a brown horse in the field and I heard another bang, it was a much louder bang. I knew that it had come from a gun and the horse bolted.

“The next thing Steve and Christine weren’t there any more.”

Mrs Carey said she did not see Mr Jackson but her attention was then caught by the taxi.

“The taxi came back down the hill really fast. I ran away, I ran back to our drive and to the house because I thought he was coming back for me.”

As the housewife stood in the alcove of her house at about 11.10am, the taxi drove past and away but she did not recognise the driver.

She said armed police arrived at the scene up to 10 minutes later and she gave a description of the vehicle. Two plainclothes officers then came and told her and neighbours to stay indoors, keep the doors locked and close their curtains.

Mrs Carey woke up her husband and told him their retired neighbours had been shot dead.

They turned on the TV in their bedroom.

“I remember sitting on the edge of the bed and then it said who they were looking for,” she said. “Derrick Bird’s picture came up on the telly. I just screamed.”

Hours later she went outside to a police officer positioned outside her home.

She said: “I remember saying to him, ‘Have they got him yet?’ because I was worried he was going to come back, because he came to our house.

“And the policeman said, ‘it’s all right we’ve got him’.

“I said, ‘apprehended him or got him, “got him”?’ And he said, ‘Don’t worry, he’s not coming back’,” Mrs Carey said as she burst into tears at the inquest in Workington.

Bird drove to the Careys’ home in Wilton after shooting dead part-time mole catcher and retired Sellafield worker Isaac Dixon on a single track road in the nearby village of Carleton.

Mr Dixon, 65, known to family and friends as Spike, received fatal shotgun wounds to the chest and hip and was found lying face down on a grass verge.

The inquests into the deaths of Bird’s twin brother David Bird, 52, his solicitor Kevin Commons, 60, fellow taxi driver Darren Rewcastle, 43, Susan Hughes, 57, Kenneth Fishburn, 71, Mr Dixon, Mr and Mrs Jackson, Garry Purdham, 31, Jamie Clark, 23, Michael Pike, 64, Jane Robinson, 66, and Bird himself continue on Monday.