What happened at Epsom College? Headteacher's daughter, 7, died of shotgun wound to head
An inquest has given the causes of death for headteacher Emma Pattison, 45 and her daughter Lettie, who are thought to have been killed by her husband George, 39, at Epsom College, on 5 Feb.
The seven-year-old daughter of Epsom College headteacher Emma Pattison died of a "shotgun wound to the head", an inquest has heard.
George Pattison, 39, is believed to have murdered Mrs Pattison, 45, and their seven-year-old daughter Lettie on school grounds before killing himself on Sunday 5 February.
An inquest at Surrey Coroner's Court on Wednesday heard that Emma Pattison died of shock, haemorrhage and shotgun wounds to the chest and abdomen, while daughter Lettie died of a shotgun wound to the head.
Speaking at the opening of the inquest into Mr Pattison’s death on Tuesday, coroner Simon Wickens said: “I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to George’s wider family at this difficult time.”
The three were found dead at their home within the grounds of the private school in Surrey after Mrs Pattison made a distressed call to her sister.
Pattison’s post-mortem examination was done by Dr Ashley Fegan-Earle at East Surrey Hospital three days after the shooting, coroner’s officer Kelly Truss told Surrey Coroner’s Court.
Here is a summary of the tragic events at Epsom College:
When did the shooting happen?
The bodies of Mrs Pattison, her husband and child were found on the school’s grounds when officers were called to the private school by the South East Coast Ambulance Service at about 1.10am on 5 February.
Mrs Pattison became Epsom’s first female head in September 2022 after six years as headteacher of Croydon High School in south London.
Her husband was a chartered accountant who was director of a management consultancy firm called Tanglewood 2016.
Police described it as an isolated incident with no third-party involvement.
According to a report in The Sun, the couple hosted a dinner party just hours before the shooting.
A friend told the newspaper: "On Saturday night they threw a dinner party. It was quite an intimate affair and literally turned out to be their last supper.
"Nothing unusual happened. There were no arguments, no indication he would go on to do something so horrific a short time later."
Reports state that a member of staff is believed to have called police after hearing gunshots.
While a gun was found at the scene, Surrey Police said causes of death would not be confirmed until post-mortem examinations are carried out.
The area surrounding the Pattison's home was sealed off soon after – including Epsom College's rifle range.
However, Surrey Police said it did not form part of the crime scene and was not a line of inquiry in the investigation.
The firing range was thought to be closed due to its close proximity to the house.
George Pattison had shotgun licence
It subsequently emerged that Mr Patisson held a shotgun licence which had recently been updated.
A firearm belonging to the dad was discovered alongside the bodies of the family at their home on the grounds of Epsom College.
Mr Pattison, a chartered accountant, had alerted officers to a change of address last week, after the family moved to the grounds from their previous home in Caterham, Surrey.
Watch: Colleagues pay tribute to headteacher found dead with daughter and husband
Police said the update was "routine" – but the incident was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) due to how recently it was made. On Friday, the watchdog decided not to investigate Surrey Police over the force’s contact with him about the licence.
The Telegraph reported that George Pattison set up an unsuccessful wine business and spoke of his desire to be more than just an accountant.
The newspaper said that a business pitch for a wine importing company started by Mr Pattison suggested he was unhappy in his work, describing himself as "a career accountant desperate to do something better with his days".
Emma Pattison's distressed call to relative
According to the BBC, Mrs Pattison made a distressed call to a close family member some time later on the Saturday evening.
But when the relative arrived at the scene, Mr and Mrs Pattison and their daughter were already dead.
Surrey Police confirm homicide investigation
The force confirmed on Tuesday that officers have launched a homicide investigation.
The deaths of the family are being investigated as a possible murder-suicide, according to latest reports.
Mr Pattison is thought to have shot his wife and daughter dead before turning the same gun on himself.
Epsom College's acting headmaster Paul Williams announced on Tuesday that the school will close until after the half-term break following the “incredibly distressing” details about the incident.
In a letter to parents, the BBC reported that Williams said: “Now is a time for families to come together and try and process this shocking news.
“The impact on your children cannot be underestimated and we are doing everything we possibly can to support them in whatever way they need.”
Emma Pattison's family issue statement
In a joint statement, the family said: "To see the esteem in which Emma is held by all who knew her is an enormous comfort.
"She was everything one could hope for in a daughter, sister, mother, wife, friend, teacher and so much more.
"We are an extremely close family and the family was at the centre of Emma and Lettie’s universe. The Epsom College community had become part of that universe for them both.
"Seven-year-old Lettie was Emma’s pride and joy: an adorable, vibrant little girl with a compelling curiosity, a heart-melting smile and an intellect beyond her years.
"The two of them were inseparable and we take comfort in that they will remain so.
"Emma had a warm, welcoming smile and sparkling, blue eyes, full of optimism. Over the last eleven days we’ve noticed the sky has been bright blue, with at times a warm glow of pink."
More details emerge about couple
Since the deaths, various details have emerged about the couple, with Sky News reporting that Mr Pattison called police in 2016 to claim his wife had assaulted him by slapping him across the face.
She was reportedly arrested on suspicion of common assault before being released without charge.
The Telegraph also reported that Mr Pattison had set up an unsuccessful wine business and spoke of his desire to be more than just an accountant.
The newspaper reported that the chartered accountant had launched Castle Street Vinters, a "specialist importer of high quality, low yield wines", with an Australian friend, and described himself as "a career accountant desperate to do something better with his days".
It has also been reported that the couple hosted a dinner party hours before their deaths, with witnesses saying there had been no arguments or any indication anything was wrong.
Where is Epsom College?
The independent school is situated on Epsom Downs in Surrey, England, for pupils aged 11 to 18.
Boarding students at the college pay more than £42,000 a year and its alumni include Conservative MP Sir Michael Fallon, broadcaster Jeremy Vine and comedian Tim Vine. More than 850 boys and girls attend the school, which was founded in 1853.
According to its website, the school picked two awards at this year’s Independent School of the Year Awards, picking up the Student Wellbeing award and the coveted overall prize of Independent School of the Year.
In its last set of league tables, the Department for Education placed the school in the top 1% nationally.