Police force investigating Epsom deaths made ‘failings’ in prior domestic abuse gun case
The police force that issued a shotgun licence to alleged double killer George Pattison was told four years ago to address “failings” in another double murder by a licensed gun owner.
Surrey Police spoke to Pattison about his shotgun licence just four days before he is believed to have shot dead his wife Emma, the head of Epsom College, their seven-year-old daughter Lettie and himself.
In 2019, Surrey Police’s firearms licensing department was told to review its procedures after it returned a shotgun to puppy farmer John Lowe despite a history of domestic violence and making a threat to kill. Seven months after he was given back his gun, Lowe used it to kill his ex-girlfriend Christine Lee, 66, and her daughter Lucy, 40.
An inquest into their deaths found that Surrey Police had failed to “investigate sufficiently” whether it was safe to return Lowe’s shotgun, and that the department failed to “consider all the evidence and information available to it” and failed “to apply the correct standard of proof” when it decided whether to return the gun.
The same force is now facing questions over whether it could have done more to prevent the murders of Emma and Lettie Pattison on Feb 5, having attended the family home in 2016 when George Pattison accused his wife of striking him.
Mr Pattison had spoken to the firearms licensing department on Feb 2 to notify it that he was changing his address to the headteacher’s lodgings on the Epsom College campus, meaning the police knew a shotgun was being kept on school grounds in the home of a couple whose marriage had been violent in the past.
Chrissie Hall, of the Gun Control Network, which campaigns for tighter gun licensing laws, said “clearly there was a failure” by the authorities in the case of the Pattisons.
She said: “These latest deaths are an outrage. Families that this has happened to in the past are absolutely furious that this happens time and time again.