Inquest reopens into Horden massacre deaths

Alison Turnbull
Alison Turnbull

AN inquest is set to reopen today into the deaths of three members of the same family at the hands of killer taxi driver Michael Atherton who then turned the gun on himself.

The Horden gun massacre saw Atherton shoot his partner Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and Alison’s daughter, Tanya Turnbull, 24.

The 42-year-old carried out the shootings in Horden on New Year’s Day last year.

The inquest into all four deaths will be held during the hearing that is expected to last up to two weeks.

Hartlepool Golf Club greenkeeper Bobby Turnbull, 24, son of Alison and brother of Tanya, said: “I know it will never end, but knowing I’m getting towards the end of all the meetings might help me with closure and to start moving on.

“Although I know the pain will never end, hopefully we will get closer to receiving answers.”

Bobby, who is raising an e-petition, is calling for a series of changes to gun laws, including stricter checks of medical records for licensees.

He met Criminal Justice Minister Damian Green last week and he has promised to look into the possibility of establishing a hot-line for people to call with concerns about domestic abuse involving gun licence holders.

The killings came after Atherton was allowed a gun licence despite having a history of domestic abuse and police removing his guns in 2008, before they were returned.

Bobby, who is campaigning for better vetting of gun licence applicants with a history of domestic abuse, travelled to the Houses of Commons last Monday for a meeting with Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Mr Green.

The 24-year-old, from East Street, Blackhall, joined members of the Gun Control Network, which was set up in the wake of the 1996 Dunblane tragedy, during the hour-long meeting at Whitehall.

It followed an appointment he had with Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper earlier this month.

Bobby hopes for another meeting with Mr Green after the conclusion of the inquests and publication of the IPCC report.

He has also had a meeting with the Independent Police Complaints Commissioner and Durham Police about findings of the IPCC’s report into the shootings, which suggested warnings had been placed on Atherton’s file about issuing his gun licence.

Bobby’s petition can be found at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41060

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