Page last updated at 11:21 GMT, Monday, 29 January 2007

Killer kept pistol from Army days

By Julie Cush
BBC News, Newcastle

David Bradley
David Bradley killed his family with a pistol he kept from the Army
Former soldier David Bradley killed his family using a pistol he kept from his Army days.

The 41-year-old's eight-year career serving his country in the Gulf, Northern Ireland and Bosnia, was described as "exemplary".

Soldiers are allowed to keep some trophy items when they leave the Army, but are usually searched for weapons.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) could not say whether Bradley was searched before he quit the Army in 1995.

MoD spokesman John Salisbury-Baker said that during Bradley's time in the forces there was no sign of what police described as his "life-long mental disorder".

"He left the service perfectly normally," said Mr Salisbury-Baker.

The former Royal Artillery gunner claimed he had swapped a packet of cigarettes with a Bosnian for the 7.65mm CZ pistol complete with silencer.

Within two years of leaving the forces, Bradley became depressed, according to Northumbria Police.

In 1997 he even confessed to his GP that he "wanted to kill someone", police said.

At the time of the shootings he was seeing a consultant psychiatrist, but had failed to keep appointments or take his medication.

Clockwise from top left: Peter, Josie, Glen and Keith Purcell
The bodies of the family were found at their home

Apart from the occasional odd job he did not work again, and in 2002 he began claiming incapacity benefit.

His family said his deterioration was gradual. He also developed a daily cannabis habit.

He had lived with the Purcells in Benwell Grove, Newcastle, since a dispute with his mother - his aunt Josie's sister - began when he was 16.

As he grew older he became a recluse, taking his meals in his room, in which he had a television and kept military memorabilia, but the Purcells accepted that this was just the "way he was".

They did not realise he had an arsenal of weapons stashed in their home. On the day of the murders, 9 July 2006, Bradley was in his room as usual.

His uncle Peter, 70, and cousin Keith, 44, went to the Westfield Social Club for a few pints as they usually did on a Saturday. Josie was babysitting for her grandchildren and Glen was out with friends.

At around 1950 GMT Peter came home and fell asleep on the sofa.

7.65mm pistol
The 7.65mm pistol used for the killings which Bradley "bought" for cigarettes

Just after 2000 GMT Bradley began trashing his room, smashing light bulbs and punching walls. At 2115 Keith came home. He heard the commotion and shouted at Bradley to "pack it in".

It was at this point Bradley told police he "flipped" and felt "hot and bothered". He punched Keith in the face then ran upstairs and grabbed his pistol.

He then went into the kitchen where he calmly shot Keith once in the head - the first victim in his five-hour killing spree.

He later told police he felt nothing for the family he had lived with for years - killing them "was just something he had to do".

He was so cold and calm about carrying out the massacre that officers said it was if he was being interviewed for stealing a bag of sweets.

Peter was still asleep, oblivious to what had happened. Bradley walked into the front room and shot him in the head at point-blank range. He died instantly.

Bradley carried on wrecking the house. At 2320 GMT, he heard Josie's car pulling up in the driveway. He had to act quickly to stop her seeing her husband's body.

You'd think he'd been caught stealing sweets in a supermarket rather him talking about the four people closest to him
Det Supt Steve Wade

She came in through the front door and as she made her way along the hall corridor, to the front room, he shot her in the head from behind.

She also died instantly and he dragged her body into the front room.

At 0200 GMT, Glen arrived home in a taxi after a night on the town. Bradley let him discover his brother's body in the kitchen, then shot him in the head several times.

Bradley got on with Glen the best, and police do not know why he shot him more than once. Four hours later Bradley calmly handed himself in.

Detective Superintendent Steve Wade, of Northumbria Police, who led the investigation, arrived at the scene early on Sunday.

He said: "What struck me most was the sheer waste of life.

"Every death scene is unpleasant, but the sheer number of people involved was like nothing I've seen in my life.

"Throughout his account he was very calm, very cold and made chilling admissions. As he described this horror to us it was if we were interviewing him about shoplifting.

"You'd think he'd been caught stealing sweets in a supermarket rather him talking about the four people closest to him."

video and audio news
The moment David Bradley surrendered to police


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