Inappropriate (how I despair of the capture of that word by the forces of ‘liberal progressiveness’) though it might be, with the details of the shootings in Cumbria only just beginning to unfold, I have a few observations to make about the enquiry which I suspect is just beginning to crank up in the county.
In doing so, I am conscious that the investigation into the thirteen deaths (remember, the murderer died too) is now a matter for HM Coroner for the area and in no way do I presume to trespass on his jurisdiction, or the police enquiry.
That said, I am bound to say that I am convinced that someone, or some institution, will eventually be blamed for ‘allowing’ or ‘failing to prevent’ taxi driver Derrick Bird from setting out on his murderous campaign; because as a society we seem to need a whipping boy to take the flak for every disaster, whether natural or human in origin.
So, a few areas I suspect will receive very close scrutiny:
1. Were the firearms Bird used ( reports suggest they were shotguns) lawfully held by either him or someone else?
2. If so, when was his licence last renewed and by whom.
3. Did the person who visited his home examine his firearms cabinet?
4. If they were not lawfully held, to whom are they registered?
5. How did Bird come to be in possession of both the weapons and a significant – enough to kill thirteen people and injure twenty-five more - amount of ammunition?
6. Had the guns been reported stolen?
7. Had any information been forwarded to the police, or any other body, suggesting that Bird was suffering a mental breakdown of any sort?
8. Was he undergoing any form of treatment for an illness which would have rendered his possession of firearms either dangerous or unwise?
9. Had any information or intelligence been forwarded to the police suggesting that Bird was planning any sort of criminality?
10. Was there some sort of index incident which prompted him to act as he did, out of anger, despair, jealousy or any other powerful human emotion?
These are, of course, but a few of the hundreds of potential questions which the enquiry will seek to answer.
I just hope that those answers stand up to what will rightly be the white heat of public and official scrutiny; because if they don’t, someone is for the high jump.
That's as maybe. For now, the thoughts of the Throne are with the families of Bird's innocent, apparently randomly chosen,victims; no doubt we'll find out the truth of what happened to them and why, in the fullness of time...