- Tyne Tees
A survivor of a triple killing in County Durham broke down in tears at an inquest as the weapon used to kill her mother and other family members was demonstrated in court by a firearms expert.
Just 30 minutes before his shooting spree, Michael Atherton had texted his partner offering to stay out for the night rather than risk confrontation, the hearing was told.
PC Mark Outhwaite showed the coroner how the gun could be reloaded within moments, whilst Laura McGoldrick, who fled to safety by climbing through the bathroom window that night, wept and was comforted by her family.
Atherton, who had arrests for domestic violence dating back 10 years, had a deep-rooted dislike for Alison Turnbull, after he blamed her for his arrest on a previous occasion.
The sisters and other family members had been out to a local rugby club without Atherton, and he grew angry when his son Mick told him they were out together.
Arriving home in a taxi before Atherton left, his partner accused him of assaulting her earlier that night.
A row broke out and when Atherton went out of the back door, he returned with one of his shotguns and shot his partner Susan, Tanya and finally Alison.
Susan Ferguson was sat on a settee and was spared, despite him looking at her. At some point Atherton reloaded the weapon and shot himself in the head, Mr Goundry said.
Before that, he had "exchanged some words" with his son, Mr Goundry said, and he fled through the front door.
The inquest will conclude on Friday after hearing evidence from Durham's Chief Constable.
The coroner has ruled that the deaths of three members of the same family, and their shooter, could have been avoided.
An inquest has heard how a man who went on to kill three members of his family before turning the gun on himself had been warned by police.
The inquest into the deaths of a man who shot himself and three members of his family on New Years Day 2012 has been taking place today.