Horrifying story of the teenager whose mother, aunt and cousin were murdered by her stepfather…

On New Year’s Day 2012, Laura McGoldrick was left devastated after her stepfather, Michael Atherton, burst into their family home and shot her mother, her aunt and cousin


by Closer staff |
Published on

Miraculously, Laura managed to escape out of a window.

In an incredible new documentary, ‘Britain’s Darkest Taboos – Gun Fanatic Shoots Dead His Family’, Laura bravely opens up about that day to recall the moment she and her family, tried to run for their lives.

Atherton, who had a history of being abusive, had developed a worrying obsession with guns and had collected six licensed firearms.

Laura, 20, from County Durham, describes how when drunk, Atherton – who worked as a taxi driver – would go straight to his gun cabinet and hauntingly reflects that, in hindsight, the tragedy was “an accident waiting to happen.”

The shooting occured at Laura's family home in County Durham
The shooting occured at Laura's family home in County Durham

In the show – which is due to air next week – Laura bravely recalls her life with Atherton, including the shocking violence he had subjected her mother to.

For years, Laura was forced to watch Atherton isolate her mother from friends and family while repeatedly beating her behind closed doors.

“There's never a minute of the day goes past without thinking of them.”

Yet, Susan courageously tried to leave Atherton, after he attempted to hit Laura during a drunken rant. Mustering the strength to break off the relationship, Laura recalls how Susan became a new woman after Atherton left the family home.

Tragically however, that fateful New Years day, one year ago, Atherton returned to the family home, burst into the house and started shooting.

He gunned down Susan at point blank range in the back, as Laura, Alison and Tanya tried to run away.

Laura is slowly rebuilding her life after the horrific attack

Amazingly, Laura managed to escape through a window but her aunt Alison and Tanya were shot as they tried to flee.

Shortly afterwards, Atherton turned the gun on himself. as they killer took his own life.

An inquest in March this year found the local constabulary had failed to help prevent the killings.

“I can't believe I've been robbed of me mam, me sister, me aunty.”

Despite knowledge of Atherton’s history of domestic abuse they missed several opportunities to confiscate the firearms he possessed.

Laura is now attempting to rebuild her life and dedicates her time to help in the campaign for stricter gun laws.

She is determined to create a lasting legacy for her loved ones, showing great courage in proving there is life after loss.

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