Gun killer 'was not depressed'
A man who shot his partner and two other relatives before killing himself was not depressed, the detective leading the murder inquiry has said.
Taxi driver Michael Atherton, 42, blasted Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and her daughter Tanya Turnbull, 24, on New Year's Day at his home in Horden, Peterlee, County Durham.
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."
Police did not believe Mr Atherton pre-planned the murders, which followed "a relatively trivial family argument". Mr Goundry said: "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.
Mrs McGoldrick's daughter from a previous relationship Laura, 19, was hit by the spray of shot aimed at her mother. She ran upstairs and escaped through a window with her boyfriend.
Mr Atherton and Mrs McGoldrick's son Michael junior heard shooting and ran outside. A middle-aged friend of the women who was in the house at the time also walked out to safety.
Mr Goundry said: "Laura and Michael junior and all the family members are fully supportive of the police investigation and like us, all they want to know is why their father committed this heinous crime."
Coroner Andrew Tweddle opened inquests at Chester-le-Street Magistrates' Court, where he confirmed the names of the dead, their ages, when they died and the likely cause of death, which was gunshot wounds. He allowed their bodies to be released so funerals can take place.