In 45 minutes of mayhem in Torquay on DECEMBER 21st, 1973, four people were shot dead by a local businessman. The gunman was Martin Fenton, 44, and the bloodbath began when he was stopped in Rosehill Road by Police Constable Dennis Smith, 44, who had become suspicious of Fenton’s driving. The constable was shot three times, two of the bullets being fired at point-blank range.

Fenton then abandoned the Ford Granada he had been driving and left in the officer’s Panda car. Forty minutes later Mr. Leondros Papadakis, Mr. Austin Webb and Miss Ann André were shot dead two miles away at the Charlton Casino in the Hotel Virginia. Two more people were injured, and another escaped harm because Fenton’s gun jammed.

The gunman then drove off in a van. He was arrested 40 minutes later after an 11-mile chase, and when officers pulled him from the vehicle they found he had stabbed himself in the stomach. He was taken to hospital.

Charged with murder when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court six months later, Fenton was said by Sir Peter Rawlinson QC, prosecuting, to have gone to the casino in search of a man with whom he was having a fierce feud. This was the casino’s owner, who fled through an emergency exit when Fenton arrived with a gun in each hand, thrusting one into the doorman’s stomach and demanding, “Where’s the boss?”

When Mr. Papadakis, the casino’s manager, went to challenge the gunman, he was shot twice. Mr. Webb, who happened to be playing at one of the tables, was also shot twice, one of the bullets piercing his heart. Miss André, a croupier, then approached Fenton saying, “Stop it, Martin. Don’t be silly. Don’t, Martin, don’t!” She too was shot twice.

Fenton’s plea of diminished responsibility was rejected by the jury, and he was jailed for life. Fenton died in prison in 1996.