A CORONER opened an inquest into the deaths of four people killed in the Horden New Year’s Day massacre yesterday.
Durham coroner Andrew Tweddle opened inquests at Chester-le-Street Magistrates’ Court, following the deaths of Michael Atherton, 42, Susan McGoldrick, 47, Alison Turnbull, 44 and 24-year-old Tanya Turnbull.
Mr Tweddle confirmed the names of the dead, their ages, when they died and the likely cause of death, which was gunshot wounds.
Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, speaking to reporters after inquests were briefly opened, said: “We have spoken to health professionals and his own GP and there is no indication from any witness that he was suffering from any mental illness or depression.
“Michael had been out to a local club and returned home soon after 10.30pm. Susan had been out with Alison and Tanya with other friends having a drink. Susan came back and soon after an argument started of a minor nature.
“Michael then left the back of the house and went to his vehicle where it appears he retrieved a shotgun. He went back in the house and within seconds he had killed the family.”
The shootings were not premeditated because he had made an arrangement with a friend to hunt rabbits the following day.
Det Supt Goundry added: “While I say I understand what happened in the house, I still do not understand why. The focus of my investigation has to be why did a minor domestic argument turn into this tragedy?”
Mr Tweddle allowed their bodies to be released so funerals can take place.