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Profile: Whitehaven gunman Derrick Bird

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 02 June 2010

A friend of Derrick Bird, who talked to the gunman the day before the Cumbria shooting spree, tells Channel 4 News that the taxi driver's final words to him were "I won't see you again".

Derrick Bird

The body of 52-year-old Derrick Bird was found in woodland today after a number of people were shot dead in west Cumbria. Police believe Bird took his own life.

Bird, who lived alone in the quiet village of Rowrah near Frizington, had been a self-employed taxi driver in the area of Whitehaven.

He is thought to have been divorced for at least 10 years and is father to two adult sons. Residents in the nearby area said one of Mr Bird's sons had become a father for the first time two weeks ago. A local post office owner added that Bird had two brothers who also lived in the region. 

Peter Leder, who worked with Bird as a taxi driver in the area, told Channel 4 News that he had spoken to the gunman last night where his final words had been "I won't see you again".

Mr Leder, who lives near Whitehaven, told Channel 4 News that he had a usual conversation when he met Bird yesterday and that his final comment was confusing.

"When he left he said: "See ya Peter - but I won't see you again,"" Mr Leder told Channel 4 News. 

"And I couldn't understand why he'd said that. I realise now why he wouldn't see us again because of what's happened."

Despite reports of Bird knowing a number of the people he shot Mr Leder said he didn’t think people were deliberately targeted. 

"I don’t think he had a vendetta against the taxi drivers," he said.

"I just think they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can't understand why he'd done it to the lads that we worked with every day."

More on the West Cumbria shootings from Channel 4 News
- Timeline: Cumbria shootings
- Whitehaven shootings: gunman friends with victim
- Whitehaven shootings: history of shootings in the UK

Mr Leder added that Bird was worried about his elderly mother who is thought to be ill.

'Normal bloke'
Shocked neighbours and colleagues described Bird, known as "Birdy", as a "quiet" man.  

Michelle Haigh, the landlady of Bird's local - The Hound Inn in Frizington - described the regular as a "normal bloke".

He would often stop off at the pub, which is about three-quarters of a mile from his home.

Ms Haigh said: "He was just a normal bloke. He was a nice guy, nothing out of the ordinary. He would come into the pub, have a couple of pints, have a chat with his friend and go home.

"This is not in character with the Derrick Bird we know."

She added: "He was just a nice guy. Everybody is shocked."

A taxi company boss said one of her drivers witnessed the aftermath of the shooting at a rival taxi rank in Whitehaven.

Glenda Pears, who runs L&G Taxis, said both Mr Bird and the Duke Street victim were self-employed drivers - and friends. She said Mr Bird had been a taxi driver for 23 years and was divorced with two sons. She described him as a "real nice man".

Sue Matthews, a telephonist at A2B Taxis in Whitehaven, told Channel 4 News that his actions were "very out of character".

"I know him through work, he was self-employed but it's a small place. I know he had one son, who was grown up, and he lived alone.

"He was a regular in town and would have a night out. I would say he was fairly popular.

"He was known as Birdy."

Car fan
Neighbours in the village of Rowrah spoke today of Bird's interest in cars. They said he was a fan of motor sports and would wear speedway jackets when he left the house.

Ryan Dempsey, 26, who lives nearby said: "I have known him for 15 years. He was always pleasant, always had time to say hello.

"He was often on the roadside fixing his car. I knew his job was a taxi driver and I think he loved his car, he was always tinkering with it."

Mr Dempsey said he had never seen Bird carrying a gun or a shotgun, but he added that, in that part of the countryside, game shooting was not uncommon.

He said: "As far as I'm concerned this is completely out of character. I had never seen him in a bad mood."

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