A SURVIVOR of a triple killing today spoke of her “delight” after a police watchdog called for changes to national gun licensing.
Laura McGoldrick believes her mum, aunt and cousin might well be alive today if the procedures now demanded had been in place prior to the Horden shootings.
Michael Atherton shot dead Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and Alison’s daughter Tanya Turnbull, 24, before killing himself on New Year’s Day 2012.
Taxi driver Atherton, 44, legally owned shotguns and firearms despite a history of domestic violence dating back 10 years.
The shooting sparked an IPCC investigation into firearms licensing issues at Durham Constabulary. This concluded the force missed opportunities to assess Atherton’s suitability to remain in possession of his weapons.
Now, the IPCC has made a number of recommendations to the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers, and the College of Policing.
•calls for the Home Office to revise the current legislation and guidance to allow for a single uniform test for the assessment of suitability and fitness to possess both firearms and shotguns;
•reviews to be carried out during the term of the licence;
•calls for clear guidance and tighter restrictions in connection with applications where domestic violence is a factor.
The move has been welcomed by Laura, who fled the shootings by climbing through the bathroom window.
The 21-year-old said: “I’m delighted that these recommendations have been made, specifically tighter on giving out licences to those with past issues of domestic violence.
“If these procedures had been in place before, Michael Atherton would probably never been able to have the guns that killed my mum, aunt and cousin.
“Nothing will ever bring them back, but if these recommendations prevent someone from having to endure the suffering that me and my family have gone through then that has got to be a good thing.”
Laura, who lives in Horden, said she is still trying to pick up the pieces of her life, but has landed a job as a support worker in Peterlee for adults with autism.
She added: “I hope it will give me some focus. I’m sure my mam would be proud – and she would also be proud at the fight to make sure she did not die in vain.”
Nicholas Long, IPCC commissioner, said: “We have already made a series of recommendations to Durham Constabulary, but based on the issues which arose, we felt it imperative that national recommendations were also proposed.
“We consider these will go some way to assist the review of firearms licensing currently under way by the Home Office.”