Survivor calls for gun law reform
Published 16/01/2012 | 05:12
A teenager who escaped through a window as her shotgun-wielding stepfather blasted three of her close relatives to death has described the harrowing experience as a "nasty dream".
Laura McGoldrick, 19, was injured as Michael Atherton Snr went on a shooting rampage at their home in Co Durham, killing her mother, Susan McGoldrick, 47, her aunt, Alison Turnbull, 44, and cousin, Tanya Turnbull, 24, on New Year's Day.
In an interview with The Sun, Miss McGoldrick relived the moment she tried to shout a warning to her mother but was unable to get the words out as the taxi driver killer struck.
The teenager, who was hit by the spray of shot aimed at her mother, said: "He walked into the house with the gun raised, aiming it at my mum's back. He had this focused, determined look as if he was about to shoot a rabbit or a pheasant. He definitely targeted my mum, he wanted her first. I wanted to get words out but my mouth wouldn't let me. It was like a nasty dream."
Atherton, 42, turned the gun on himself following the attack at the semi-detached home in Horden, Peterlee. It was one of several firearms he held legally.
During the attack, musical theatre student Miss McGoldrick managed to escape with her boyfriend Myren Grant, 19, through her bedroom window. Her stepbrother Michael, the 17-year-old son of Atherton and Mrs McGoldrick, also escaped.
The teenager added: "I am surprised he didn't run upstairs after me. I'm very lucky that I escaped. He would definitely have killed me if he had the chance."
She described Atherton as a "Jekyll and Hyde" character with "seven personalities" and revealed he had been violent towards her mother on numerous occasions in the past.
Miss McGoldrick also called for a change in gun laws to stop similar incidents occurring. "There is no need to have guns in your house. And people's backgrounds should be checked better," she said.
Durham Police said officers were called to the home of Atherton four times between 2002 and 2004 over domestic violence incidents. The force said he had "a volatile relationship" with his partner.