I have been fortunate enough to have books and articles published about the use of firearms in crime and conflict. Why would I be any different to other writers who script narrative about this specific subject. Whilst at times it has been a violent journey, it is actually very simple.

I was subjected to the discipline and the real world handling of firearms and rural shooting sport from an early age. I come from a large military family, many of whom were engaged in conflicts going back to the 1880’s. Some indeed were killed and wounded. A selection became small arms instructors, technical specialists and competition shooters. My maternal Grandfather developed a fire plan training system for automatic weapons that was used throughout the Second World War.

In early 1975 at the age of nineteen I hitch-hiked to San Sebastian in Northern Spain. The country was still in the throes of the, ‘Basque Conflict’, and my reasoning for going there was a rather naïve sense of adventure. I remember being asked detailed questions at the French/Spanish border and having my rucksack thoroughly searched. Seems strange when you consider the vast flow of visitors to northern Spain now.  On my second night in the city there was a bomb explosion. The next day a police officer was shot and killed. The weather was appalling, high winds and driving rain. I left on a train for Madrid two days later and I arrived in warm sunshine. 

Walking through the eastern rural outskirts of Madrid in the district of Barajas I became the target of a random shooting. It was a totally unexpected, sudden and horrifying incident and I was lucky to escape alive let alone uninjured. This bizarre experience later served to give me a greater understanding of the suddenness of gun violence.

I continued to travel throughout many parts of the world for the next two years but I never encountered anything again like that random experience in Spain.

Between 1977 and 1989 I served in the Royal Marines as both a regular soldier and a reservist. I was a member of 40 Commando’s Reconnaissance Troop during the Falklands Campaign in 1982. Through 1984/85 I served in Northern Ireland on Op Interknit. Here I was involved in both routine overt standard procedures and some more obscure covert operations. That involved setting out on some unconventional armed incursions to search for and compromise armed insurgents. 

I mastered the technical functions and the knowledge and skills required to utilise firearms. I understood the psychological, physical and proprioceptive demands and dark burden associated with hunting and potentially killing human beings with a gun. I experienced the physical clandestine processes of planning a path to a target with the minimum risk and maximum chance of success.

It was in Northern Ireland that I first found evidence of roadside gunfire damage marking and experimenting in the UK. Additional service roles involved me in the security and heavily armed escort of the UK’s nuclear weapons and maritime counter-terrorism operations.

A lot of my research involves studying sudden and random shootings seemingly without motives; a factor that many have difficulty understanding. In August 1981 I was part of a murder hunt search team assisting the Devon and Cornwall Police. We were tasked to search cliffs with abseiling equipment. We found the body of a missing woman who had been on holiday with her husband and daughter and was simply walking a cliff path on a quiet Sunday morning. She had been randomly attacked; beaten and strangled by a local who the police caught and arrested hours later. In 1991 I suffered the trauma, shame and anger of having a licensed shotgun stolen. Thankfully the perpetrators were swiftly caught but it revealed to me the depravity of violent common criminals. 

My research into the shootings that I have investigated is organised under three aims. FACTS – what actually occurred and what evidence was available. FIREARMS – what was used and required of the perpetrator. FOCUS – attention to fine detail, the location and the wider view.

Very few crime writers understand firearms, how they are employed, what is required to operate them or how to accurately describe and reference guns generally. Even fewer have experienced employing them or being at the angry business end of a gun. 

My lived experiences and moral authority does not automatically qualify me however. Experience is not always a good teacher. I consider that it has to be a measured balance. I am always learning.

My first book, Gunfire-Graffiti: Overlooked Gun Crime in the UK was published by real crime specialists, Waterside Press, Basingstoke in 2012. Written under the pseudonym, Matt Seiber. The preface was written by the BBC Journalist and Presenter Nick Ross who partnered Jill Dando on the original BBC ‘Crimewatch’. Jill Dando was the victim of a gun killing in London in April 1999.

The image of this site on the A68 was investigated by Northumbria Police because the gunman kept returning to place more shots. He used a 7.62mm/.308 high velocity rifle from a firing position across the road. Just 600 metres directly behind the structure there is a small rural commercial park. When it was first reported in the local media a police spokesman had suggested that it was not a firearm that caused the damage but likely to be stones thrown up by passing lorries.

The book studies aspects of gun crime that is exactly as the title suggests, overlooked. This is roadside gun crime where unknown perpetrators experiment with firearms of all descriptions. This practise is widespread in other parts of the world but one might not expect to see it in the UK. It appears with alarming frequency. Police forces throughout the country do not have the knowledge and resources to study it. We all drive past example of these ‘signatures’ every day, totally unaware.

I was a contributing specialist on the Channel 4 ‘Murder in the Alps’ three part documentary in June 2022. Their objective was to present a fresh study and re-visit to the still unsolved Annecy Murders in France in 2012. This was the shooting murder of three members of a British/Iraqi family and a French cyclist. The family’s eight year old daughter was shot and seriously injured but survived. I had made two previous visits to this murder site and region in 2015 and 2019.

In 2020 I was lucky enough to secure a long and in depth interview with Brett Martin at his home in Brighton. Brett had a property in the region and was a key witness. He was the first person to arrive at the murder scene in 2012. In July 2022 I made another visit to the region to complete further studies with my son, Sam.

My four part blog study on this atrocity goes into great detail. The location, distances, geography and the time frames. They reveal the wider vicinity and region in a very unique fashion.

I am not a police officer or a detective and I do not set out to solve crimes. I research shootings that have been both officially concluded and in some cases unsolved. I also closely study cases where there is lingering doubt about the legal conclusions and when those aspects have fed conspiracy which has threaded a distorted pathway. Without doubt the greatest example of that was the assassination of President John F Kennedy in November 1963.

I would describe myself as an articulate observer. I understand how firearms work, and even more importantly what skills a user needs to operate them, if only the most basic requirements. This is not and should not be confused with the study of plain ballistics, that is a completely separate subject. Surveillance and observation has been a big part of my professional past.

I have been lucky to meet, speak and communicate with official investigators, other writers,  journalists, presenters, crime scene witnesses, accused and incarcerated perpetrators and associates of people accused, friends and relatives of victims. It is an ongoing journey, often shocking and disturbing, regularly frustrating and always saddening.

On the 30th September 2022 my latest book, Sabre Prattling – The Language of the Battlefield. published by Beachy Books was released and launched in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and in the Portsmouth D-Day museum, The D-Day Story. This is by no means a niche book. It relates to the language of conflict that we all use day to day, perhaps not always realising the expressive origins.

I started this book in 2009. By the time it was published the war in Ukraine had been raging for seven months. Correspondents, journalists and commentators were using battlefield and conflict language prior to Vladimir Putin’s invasion, accusing him of ‘Sabre Rattling’. The 2022 Winter Olympics and the World Cup brought out the associated sporting versions of this terminology.

Expanded references were prior to the release of Prince Harry’s book, SPARE. Describing his conflict within the British Royal family, commentators really brought out the ‘Big Guns’. There was duelling, spiking guns, sharpening weapons, tossing grenades and dropping bombshells.

Thank you for finding my website. Please read my real crime blogs. Many of the subject titles will look immediately familiar but please don’t think I’m just writing the same old stuff that you’ve read before elsewhere. I don’t want to waste your time, I set out to engage it.