Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Grieving Son's Tribute to 'Such a Good Man" Coroner Opens Inquest on New Year's Day Gun Victims

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Grieving Son's Tribute to 'Such a Good Man" Coroner Opens Inquest on New Year's Day Gun Victims

Article excerpt

Byline: NEIL McKAY

INQUESTS were opened today into the deaths of gunman Michael Atherton and his three victims.

Durham coroner Andrew Tweddle opened and adjourned the hearings into the deaths of Atherton, 42, his partner Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and her niece Tanya Turnbull, 24, during proceedings at Chester-le-Street Magistrates' Court this morning and by doing so gave the goahead for their funerals to take place.

Det Chief Supt Paul Goundry, leading the investigation into how and why taxi driver Atherton gunned down the three women, today said a full murder investigation was continuing even though police were not looking for anybody else in connection with the deaths.

"It is important that we establish the full facts, not only for the coroner but also more importantly for the sake of the remaining family members," he said.

The killings took place on New Year's Day following a family argument at Atherton and Mrs McGoldrick's home in Horden, Peterlee.

Det Chief Supt Goundry said Atherton, who owned three shotguns and three rifles, stormed out of the family's semi-detached house in Greenside Avenue, and his family thought he had gone off to calm down.

"From what I have been told it was a far less serious argument than they have had in the past, but this time he returned armed with a shotgun.

"He shot Susan first, then her sister, then her niece."

Atherton's devastated 17-year-old son, Michael junior, who was upstairs when his dad began shooting and who fled out of the front door, said he could not understand why "such a good man" would kill his partner and two relatives.

Michael expressed his grief at losing "the best mother in the world" as the police watchdog launched an investigation into why his father was granted a firearms licence.

Michael released a joint statement on his and his sister Laura's behalf. The 19-year-old escaped by climbing through an upstairs window. …

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