GUNMAN Michael Atherton had threatened to shoot his partner months before he gunned her down on New Year’s Day.
Reliving the moment crazed Atherton opened fire on his family, Laura McGoldrick spoke about his violent past and tumultuous 18-year relationship with her mum Susan.
The 19-year-old, who escaped the bloodbath at her Horden home, said her stepdad would often lash out at Susan, 47, flying into fits of violent rage.
On several occasions, he even threatened to shoot her dead with one of the six guns he was licensed for.
Laura said: “He had threatened a couple of times before this to shoot her, but you don’t expect it to happen.”
Speaking on ITV’s Daybreak show yesterday, Laura was joined by her cousin Bobby and aunt Mavis.
Mavis added: “He would often say it to my sister but you just don’t believe it.”
Laura said Atherton, who the family called Big Mick, had snapped after her mum told him she was planning on leaving him after enduring years of abuse.
She said: “One time she had a huge black eye, a real corker after he punched her.
“He didn’t want her to do anything or go anywhere and if she did, he would beat her.”
Despite agreeing to split in the new year, Atherton is believed to have flown into a fit of rage after discovering Susan had gone to a disco with relatives on New Year’s Eve.
“He drove to the club where my mam was and he hit her,” Laura said.
“I was in the kitchen talking to my aunty and she told me this. Big Mick walked in the house and I started screaming at him to get out.
“He disappeared into the garden then came back about two seconds later. He pointed the gun he was holding at my mum and just shot it while I was standing next to her.
“I ran upstairs into my bedroom and jumped out of the window and into the garden of the next house.
Laura recalled how as she was trying to escape she heard the shots that killed her relations: “I heard all the shots going off before I even got out of the window.”
Atherton killed Susan, Laura’s aunt Alison Turnbull, 44, and cousin Tanya Turnbull, 24, before turning the gun on himself.
Laura’s stepbrother and Atherton’s 17-year-old son Michael escaped the shooting spree.