February 26. 2024. 5:54

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Epsom College deaths being treated as homicide investigation, say police

Surrey police are treating the deaths of the Epsom College headteacher, Emma Pattison, her husband and their daughter as a homicide investigation and a firearm has been recovered, the force has confirmed.

Pattison, who became the college’s first female head in September, was found with her daughter Lettie, seven, and husband, George, 39, at their home in the grounds of the independent school in the early hours of Sunday.

Detectives are examining the possibility George Pattison killed his wife and daughter before killing himself.

The firearm is said to have been licensed to George Pattison, a chartered accountant and, according to Companies House, the director of a consultancy, Tanglewood 2016.

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The BBC reported that Emma Pattison made a distressed call to a family member some time late on Saturday evening, but by the time the relative arrived, all three were dead.

The corporation also said that the acting headteacher, Paul Williams, announced on Tuesday that the school will close until after the half-term break following the “incredibly distressing” details about the deaths.

Emergency services are reported to have been alerted after gunshots were heard by neighbouring staff living near the family’s home.

Police had made a routine call to George Pattison in the days preceding the killings to check the details of his new address.

In a statement, Surrey police said: “An investigation is being carried out to establish the full chronology and circumstances of the incident. At this stage, officers are confident there is no third-party involvement and there is no wider threat or risk to the community.

“A firearm was found at the scene and has been recovered by officers, however, causes of death will not be confirmed until postmortems have been completed later this week.

“We can confirm the firearm was licensed and registered to George Pattison.

“We had contact with George on Thursday, February 2nd, after he notified us of a previous change of address, as is routine. Due to the short period of time between that contact and this incident, we have made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

“We are aware of speculation regarding a firing range on the site. We can confirm this range does not form part of our scene or our inquiries. Any reporting to suggest otherwise is inaccurate. The deaths have been reported to the coroner for formal identification.

Police said on Sunday they did not believe there was any third-party involvement.

Pattison became Epsom College’s head in September after joining from Croydon High School where she had been headteacher for six years.

In a pupils-led Epsom Insight podcast recorded in December, Pattison spoke of joining the school and outlined the “big changes” her family had recently undergone.

She said: “It’s been wonderful, in terms of transition it has been a really big change for my family, so we’ve obviously moved house, we’ve bought a dog, I’ve got a new job, my husband has got a new job – which wasn’t meant to happen but did. And my daughter has started a new school, so there’s been a lot of change for us as a family, but it’s been wonderful, the college has been so supportive.”

Dr Alastair Wells, the chair of the college’s board of governors, said the news had been met with “utter shock and disbelief”.

Epsom College tweeted that it was “heartbreaking” news, and that staff and pupils would pay their respects to their “wonderful head” on Monday. The focus was on the welfare and wellbeing of pupils and staff.

More than 850 boys and girls attend the school, which was founded in 1853. It won the top prize at the Independent Schools of the Year awards 2022, with judges calling it a “beacon of excellence”. Boarding students pay more than £42,000 a year and its alumni include the former Conservative MP Sir Michael Fallon and the broadcaster Jeremy Vine. — Guardian