Partner of New Year’s Day gunman victim speaks out

Michael Atherton, who killed three people during a rampage with a legally owned gun, including his step-sister Alison Turnbull, before truning the gun on himself. Alison's son Bobby, 23, has now launched a petition to change gun licensing procedures.
Michael Atherton, who killed three people during a rampage with a legally owned gun, including his step-sister Alison Turnbull, before truning the gun on himself. Alison's son Bobby, 23, has now launched a petition to change gun licensing procedures.
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THE partner of a woman killed in a New Year’s Day shooting has spoken of his terror for the first time.

David Rowe was first on the scene after Michael Atherton opened fire at his home in Greenside Avenue, Horden.

Atherton, 42, killed his partner Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and Alison’s daughter Tanya Turnbull, 24.

David, who lived with Alison in Blackhall, had been out with the family at Horden Rugby Club, but had walked to the house because Alison’s taxi was full.

He was the first person on the scene after Atherton used his shotgun to fire at the three women, also injuring Susan’s daughter Laura, then 19, before turning the weapon on himself.

David was arrested by police, who arrived to the incident to find him covered in blood, holding him on suspicion of four murders for nine hours as they established what had happened.

The fitter at Caterpillar said: “I was with her when she passed. I could have been dead too.

“It does play on my mind if I had been there and what could have been if I had been there too.

“But he had a gun. What chance do you have against that?”

David often thinks through what could have happened if the scenario had been different.

David, who met Alison in a Blackhall pub five years ago, has since sought the help of a counsellor to help deal with the tragedy.

He added: “There is stuff I had repressed and put to the back if my head.

“It helped me to work through everything.”

He marked the anniversary of their relationship by laying flowers on Alison’s grave and has also planted a tree in High Hesleden, where she grew up.

The family are now campaigning for tighter gun laws and have set up a petition which can be found at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33913.

Twitter: @echoeastdurham