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Coroner urges gun licensing changes at inquest

Taxi driver Michael Atherton shot dead three members of his family before killing himself. Credit: Durham Police

A coroner has called for "root and branch" changes to gun licensing at the conclusion of an inquest into a taxi driver who shot dead three members of his family before killing himself.

Andrew Tweddle said that with the current "flawed" system it was "fortuitous" there had not been more incidents like the one in Horden, near Peterlee, County Durham, on New Year's Day 2012.

Michael Atherton, 42, killed his partner, Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister, Alison Turnbull, 44, and Ms Turnbull's daughter, Tanya, 24, before turning the gun on himself.

Mr Tweddle, sitting in Crook, reached a verdict that the women were unlawfully killed and that Atherton killed himself.

The inquest heard that Atherton, despite a history of domestic abuse and threats to self-harm, legally owned six weapons, including three shotguns.

The inquest also heard that there was no formal training for police officers involved in granting firearms licences.

For further coverage of this story visit ITV Tyne Tees.

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