British cabbie who shot dead 12 was 'nicest man': sons

6th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

The sons of a cab driver who killed 12 people in a gun rampage across a rural part of northwest Britain described him as "the nicest man you could ever meet" Sunday, adding they were baffled by his crimes.

Derrick Bird, 52, killed his twin brother David and their family's lawyer plus 10 other people and also injured 11 Wednesday. Most of the killings came as he drove around taking pot-shots at passers-by in the sleepy county of Cumbria.

In their first public comments on the tragedy, Bird's two sons, Graeme, 28, and Jamie, 16, said their father was a "loving, cheerful" man whose death had left them "devastated".

"To us, he was the nicest man you could ever meet," they said in a statement read out to journalists by a local clergyman.

"We would like to say that we do not know why our dad committed these horrific crimes. We are both mortified by the sad events."

The brothers also sent their condolences to the families of those killed by Bird.

Police confirmed Saturday that Bird was being investigated over his tax affairs, although they said they were still unsure of a motive for the killings.

A friend of Bird, Mark Cooper, said the cabbie had told him: "'They have caught me with 60,000 pounds (90,000 dollars, 70,000 euros) in the bank, the tax people'." Cooper added: "He just said: 'I'll go to jail'."

Reports suggested Bird argued with his twin David -- who was found dead in the bedroom of his home -- over the money and their mother's will.

Bird's surviving brother Brian and his family also released a statement saying the loss they had suffered was "devastating".

"We cannot offer any reason why Derrick took it upon himself to commit these crimes," the statement added.

A number of events were being held in the local area Sunday, including outdoor religious services in the towns of Whitehaven and Seascale, which were among those affected.

The clergyman who read out the family statements, the Reverend Jim Marshall, told reporters afterwards that local people and the family did not blame Bird for what had happened.

"The family puts no blame on Derrick," he said.

"They knew Derrick for 52 years. There was a new Derrick for a few hours of last Wednesday and the two things were very separate in the minds and memories of the family".

© 2010 AFP

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