Horden victim’s daughter weeps as she says: ‘He wanted to kill mum first’

Grieving Laura McGoldrick on ITV Daybreak. Below, Michael Atherton's victims Susan McGoldrick, Alison Turnbull and Tanya Turnbull.
Grieving Laura McGoldrick on ITV Daybreak. Below, Michael Atherton's victims Susan McGoldrick, Alison Turnbull and Tanya Turnbull.
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TEENAGER Laura McGoldrick today spoke of her horror as she watched her stepdad gun down her family.

The 19-year-old desperately tried to warn her mum Susan McGoldrick as crazed Michael Atherton Snr opened fire on his family on New Year’s Day.

Victims of the New Year's Day shootings in Horden, from left, Susan McGoldrick, Alison Turnbull and Tanya Turnbull.

Victims of the New Year's Day shootings in Horden, from left, Susan McGoldrick, Alison Turnbull and Tanya Turnbull.

But she was unable to get her words out as the taxi driver aimed his gun at the 47-year-old’s back and fired.

Laura 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 the words out but my mouth wouldn’t let me. It was like a nasty dream.”

Laura watched on in horror as Atherton started his deadly shooting rampage, blasted the semi-automatic weapon into Susan’s back.

Laura, who stood close by, was caught in the crossfire with pellets peppering her face and body.

“He was just a couple of feet from my mum,” she said.

“I heard the gun go off but it wasn’t a massive noise, it was sort of muffled.

“My mum fell forwards with her back arched. I didn’t see her hit the floor, I just ran straight away. I thought she was still alive.

“I’m surprised he didn’t run upstairs after me. I’m very lucky that I escaped.”

She ran upstairs and managed to escape the massacre with her boyfriend Myren Grant, 19, through her bedroom window,

Her stepbrother and Atherton’s 17-year-old son Michael also escaped.

Laura’s aunt Alison Turnbull, 44, and cousin Tanya Turnbull, 24, were also killed when Atherton shot them as they tried to escape the bloodbath.

Atherton, 42, then turned the gun on himself.

The Newcastle College music theatre student said: “It’s all still like a dream. I still text my mam every day and try and phone her. It’s not real yet.”

It today emerged Susan had been planning on leaving Atherton after years of abuse.

After 18 years together and several recent splits, the couple agreed they would leave each other after the festive period.

But on New Year’s Day, Atherton is said to have flown into a fit of rage when he discovered Susan had been to a disco with her family.

He put two guns into his car for a shooting trip the next day and said he was staying at a hotel.

But when Susan returned home, Atherton was waiting for her.

“He appeared through the back door,” Laura said. “He was holding the gun, already aiming it ready to shoot.”

She added: “He shot every one of them in the back. He was too much of a coward to look into their faces as he did it.”

Laura today described Atherton as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character with “seven personalities”.

She said: “He was a freak and a weirdo and I hated him.

“He was only happy when my mum was sad.”

Twitter: @sunechochief