Son tells how he misses his murdered dad

By Annie DavidsonIT is now 20 years since Pc Brian Bishop was gunned down as he tried to stop an armed robber collecting his stash from a wood.For the past two decades his son, David, who was 10 years old when his father was murdered, has tried to get on with life in the aftermath of the tragedy.

By Annie Davidson

IT is now 20 years since Pc Brian Bishop was gunned down as he tried to stop an armed robber collecting his stash from a wood.

For the past two decades his son, David, who was 10 years old when his father was murdered, has tried to get on with life in the aftermath of the tragedy.

But some wounds never completely heal.


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David is now aged 30, a father-of-two and has followed in his father's footsteps by joining Essex Police.

He lives in Colchester with his wife, Debbie, and their children, George, three, and 10-month-old Ellie, and is a police constable at Clacton Police Station in the plain clothes tactical team.

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It was a career that David was determined to follow, but he was not accepted into the force until his third attempt, three-and-a-half years ago.

His first application was when he was 18 years old, just eight years after gunman Colin Richards killed his father with a bullet to the head.

August 22, 1984, had been a normal day for David in every way, save for one thing.

For the 10-year-old did not kiss his father goodbye when he left the family home for the last time to go to work as an armed officer in the force support unit at police headquarters in Chelmsford.

David said: “I always kiss my family goodbye before I go to work and dad was the same. But that day I was too busy playing with my mate. There was no kiss goodbye and dad went off to work.”

The youngster later went to bed, but was kept awake by a party that was being held on a playing field behind the family's home in Chelmsford.

It was late in the evening when he heard a knock at the door and he sat on the top stair as the house filled up with people who had come to break the news to David's mother, Sue, that his father had been shot.

“I was told dad had been hurt and was taken to stay at the next-door neighbours for the night and the next day I was taken to stay with another policeman's family in Southend,” he recalled.

David was kept away from the television news and, in his words, “spoilt” for four days until a friend of his father's named Monty broke the news that he had died.

“He told me that the human body is like a car with an engine. When the engine stops, the car effectively stops and he told me that dad's brain was his engine and his brain had stopped, which meant his body had stopped.”

At Brian's funeral at Chelmsford Cathedral, there were representatives from every police force in the country, MPs and judges, as well as members of the public listening to the service outside.

David recalled holding his grandfather's hand and “trying to be strong for him”. In an effort to protect the youngster, he was not included in the private family cremation after the cathedral service.

Today, David wishes he had been.

“At the time all I remember is I had been taken away from my mum, nan and grandad. I didn't really realise I was missing the cremation,” he said.

“Now, with hindsight, I wish I had gone. Perhaps then I could have said goodbye.”

Having missed their goodbye kiss on the day of the shooting and later the cremation, David felt he has never been able to say a proper goodbye to his father.

Twenty years later, he admitted that still hurt - a lot.

David carries a picture of his dad in his wallet and still visits the memorial to him that was put on Frinton seafront close to the scene of the shooting.

“I miss him every day,” he said. “I missed him when I had my passing out, when I joined the station when I played sport for the school.

“When I bought a car, I missed him. Some people would take their dad along to do that, but I couldn't.

“It is silly little things like I got my first razor for my 13th birthday, but there was no-one to show me how to shave, I couldn't ask my mum.

“Over the years lots of people tried to be dad, but at the end of the day no-one was.”

His grandparents, Frank and Vera Bishop, were devastated by the loss of their only child and had to move from their home in Chelmsford to Ipswich.

David said his grandfather kept thinking he heard their back gate open and expected to see Brian walking up the path.

He has had four separate bouts of counselling to try to come to terms with the loss of his father, the first when he was a teenager and the most recent when he discovered Richards was being released from prison after serving 18 years.

David said: “When I was younger, my best friend's mum died and the counselling came shortly after that. I was very close to her and it also bought up memories about dad.

“It helped - but then I have had three other lots since then, so perhaps it didn't help or you would think I wouldn't need it again.

“I just blame myself for not saying goodbye, when I should be blaming Richards.”

The release of his Pc Brian Bishop's killer was a bitter blow for his son, who was informed of the situation by Victim Support.

As one of the affected people, David was allowed to give certain conditions for Richards' licence - which included him being banned from the Tendring area and not being allowed to contact David or his family.

In November last year, Victim Support contacted David to say Richards wanted to visit relatives in the Clacton area for Christmas and asked his feelings about it. He did not object - but now wished he had.

“In hindsight I wish I had said no to punish him, but I rolled over for him,” he added.

David has been told that Richards never showed any remorse for his actions and he has no wish to meet him for an explanation of his murderous behaviour, although no such meeting has been offered.

“Nothing he could say would make me feel better,” he said. “I have no desire to meet him and hear his sorry story.”

However, they almost came face-to-face when David was working for Group Four security service.

After his second rejection from the police force, he was advised to get some life experience and took a job transporting prisoners between police stations, courts and prisons.

He was at Hollesley Bay Prison, near Woodbridge, when he overheard someone saying a wheelchair-bound prisoner would be arriving later that day.

David said: “They said this guy was serving life because he shot a copper in Essex.

“The girl I was with stared at me and asked if I was all right. I had gone white and started shaking and sweating. It was a horrible situation. My bosses made sure I never went back to Hollesley Bay.”

Although they are close, David and his mother do not discuss the traumatic events that have so affected their lives.

“I wouldn't want to talk to her about it as we would both end up crying and that would get us nowhere really,” he said.

However, his children have been told about their courageous grandfather and George has already been taken to the seafront memorial.

He said his father would have loved being a grandfather, but that was just one of the many things he had been denied when Richards made the split second decision to shoot him.

David has only his memories - but they are good ones.

“I just remember a lot of laughter. We were close, I couldn't have been closer to him. We played cricket together - he wasn't much of a footballer - and swimming was a big thing which we both enjoyed,” he said.

“We went running together round the field behind the house. We did a lap together and then he would carry on and do a couple more. But there was a lot of laughter.”

David makes a point of saying he is not trying to be his father, but the similarities - a devoted family man, a loving son and a committed police officer - are hard to ignore.

But because of one man's callous actions, Brian Bishop will never know just how proud his son would have made him.

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

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