Gun massacre victims laid to rest

Michael Atherton

Michael Atherton

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THE victims of the Horden gun massacre have been laid to rest – a day before their killer’s funeral takes place.

Michael Atherton blasted his partner Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and her niece Tanya Turnbull, 24, on New Year’s Day after a family row.

Taxi driver Atherton, 42, then killed himself with his legally-owned shotgun at the couple’s semi-detached home in Greenside Avenue, Horden.

The victims’ funerals were held at 12.15pm yesterday with a joint service at St Andrew’s Church, in Hesleden Road, Blackhall.

Ms McGoldrick was then cremated at Hartlepool Crematorium, while the interment of Mrs Turnbull and her daughter took place at Blackhall Cemetery.

The family had requested that the day be a private affair.

Atherton’s funeral was set to be held today at 11.30am in St Mary’s Church, in Horden.

One announcement in yesterday’s Hartlepool Mail for Susan McGoldrick said: “God watched you as you suffered, He knew you had your share, He gently closed your weary eyes, And took you in his care.”

Another for Alison Turnbull read: “The gates of memory never close. How we miss you no one knows, No longer here our lives to share, But in our hearts you are always there.”

A notice for Tanya Turnbull described her as “a very special girlfriend who had a beautiful smile and a heart of gold, and will be deeply missed”.

It added: “You will be in our hearts forever.”

In a family announcement previously in the Mail, Ms McGoldrick was described as “a loving mam of Laura and Michael”, with Mrs Turnbull a “much-loved partner of Davey and a devoted mam of Bobby and the late Tanya.”

Tanya was described as “a very special girlfriend of Michael, she was a smiley, happy, kind, honest person who would do anything for you”.

A notice in Tuesday’s Mail described Atherton as a “much loved father, a loving son, dear brother and good friend of many”.

Inquests on all four were formally opened and adjourned at Chester-le-Street Magistrates’ Court last Thursday.

Atherton’s stepdaughter Laura McGoldrick, 19, who was injured when she was hit by pellets as the gunman aimed at her mother, managed to escape from an upstairs window with her boyfriend.

Susan and Atherton’s son, Michael Jnr, 17, escaped through the front door.

A woman who had been out drinking with the victims was also in the house and escaped unharmed.