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A picture believed to be of Laura McGoldrick, who escaped gunman Michael Atherton by leaping from a windowFacebook

A 19-year-old survived a New Year's Day gun massacre by throwing herself out of an upstairs window.

Michael Atherton, 42, a taxi driver and keen hunter, shot his partner Susan McGoldrick, 47, her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, and niece Tanya Turnbull, 22, at their home in Horden, County Durham, before turning his gun on himself.

Laura McGoldrick, 19, Susan's daughter, leapt out of an upstairs window during the attack, which was over in seconds. She was hit by shotgun pellets in the wrist and shoulder.

Covered in blood, she ran screaming and hammered on neighbour's doors. Police were called and found a scene of carnage at the home where the victims had recently returned after a night out.

Two other people were in the house at the time of the frenzied attack. One of them, a man was initially arrested, but later released without charge.

It has been revealed that Durham Police were alerted to an incident in 2008 when Atherton, who has three licenced shotguns and three other licenced guns, threatened to self-harm.

The force has voluntarily referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which will examine why Atherton's licences were not revoked.

Police have not confirmed whether the gun used in the attack was licenced.

It is understood that Atherton was suffering from depression caused by a heart condition.

Atherton and McGoldrick had a teenaged son together, but split last year, The Telegraph reported. Atherton had been drinking in local pubs on the night of the attack, but is not thought to have been drunk.

"You will be missed Sue! Such a friendly and happy-go-lucky person taken from us in such a tragic way...my thoughts are with the family," Anthea Mcloughlin, a friend of Susan McGoldrick, wrote on Facebook.