A HEARTBROKEN teenager returned to the house where three relatives were massacred to lay flowers in memory of her mum.
Laura McGoldrick made an emotional dawn trip to Greenside Avenue, Horden, just four days after her step-dad went on a New Year’s Day killing spree in the family home.
The 19-year-old had fled the bloodbath by scrambling out of an upstairs window with her boyfriend after suffering minor shotgun wounds.
Laura was in the kitchen as Atherton opened fire on her mother Susan McGoldrick.
Laura’s bouquet of pink carnations, purple daisies and lilies were placed on the doorstep of the empty house among others from friends and family.
The moving message attached read: “To mam. I love you so much with all my heart. I can’t wait to see you again.”
Susan, 47, was shot dead in the kitchen by her partner Michael Atherton, 42, just minutes before midnight on Sunday after a “minor” row.
The bodies of Ms McGoldrick’s sister, Alison Turnbull, 44, and Mrs Turnbull’s daughter, Tanya Turnbull, 24, were found by armed police in the kitchen.
Taxi driver Atherton, who was a gun club member, turned the weapon on himself in the doorway between the kitchen and living room.
Atherton had been due to go out shooting rabbits the day after he killed three family members, it has been revealed.
At the opening of an inquest yesterday, Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle was told that all the victims died of gunshot wounds.
Atherton’s 17-year-old son – also called Michael – also fled the scene.
Police say Atherton, who legally owned three shotguns and three section one firearms, was not suffering from a mental illness or depression.
Investigating officers have consulted a forensic psychologist who worked on the shootings in Cumbria by taxi driver Derrick Bird, which happened in 2010.
Issues regarding the granting of Atherton’s firearms licence and their renewal will be reviewed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
At the opening of the inquests, held yesterday at Chester-le-Street Magistrates’ Court, Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry confirmed all four died shortly before midnight.
The bodies will now be released so their funeral services can go ahead.
Shoppers who knew Susan through her job at Aldi, in Peterlee, were among those to leave flowers and messages.
Mally and Sandra Clarkson, from Easington Colliery, prayed for her before recalling seeing the mother-of-two just two days before her death.
Mrs Clarkson said: “We’re her customers but she used to come and give us a cuddle.”
Mr Clarkson added: “Nobody can understand it really, it’s just so sad.”
Gordon Dunn, 62, a neighbour in Greenside Avenue, recalls police being called to the house of Michael and Susan about 10 years ago after Michael broke the door during a “tiff”.
Gordon’s wife Barbara, 60, who works at a nearby community centre, heard four bangs as Mr Atherton fired shots, but thought they had been fireworks and believed the disturbance had been an argument.
Gordon added: “We didn’t think for a minute he’d done what he did.
“I didn’t even know he had guns. You never saw him apart from when he was coming out to do the bins.”
A friend of Ms McGoldrick also claimed the tragic mum had repeatedly left Atherton, but went back to him because she “loved him”.
“I asked her why she kept going back. She would say ‘I know I shouldn’t’ and that she should end it altogether. She said she stayed for the kids and ‘I love him’.”