Deaths of Epsom College headteacher and family investigated as murder-suicide

Deaths of Epsom College headteacher and family investigated as murder-suicide

The deaths of a top UK boarding school head teacher and her family are being investigated as a murder-suicide.

The bodies of Emma Pattison, 45, daughter Lettie, seven, and her husband George, 39, were found at their house on school grounds at 1.10am on Sunday by police, who had been called to Epsom College by the South-East Coast Ambulance Service.

It is now being treated as a homicide investigation, Surrey Police confirmed on Tuesday.

Detectives are working on the assumption that George Pattison killed his wife and daughter before taking his own life, the BBC reported.

Police said a firearm was found at the scene and recovered by officers. It was licensed and registered to Mr Pattison.

Police said in a statement: “A firearm was found at the scene and has been recovered by officers, however, causes of death will not be confirmed until post-mortems 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, 2 February 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).”

Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey, Senior Investigating Officer on the case, said the force is “working around the clock to investigate and understand the exact circumstances which led to this point”.

“We understand the public concern and upset, and we will clarify what we can, when we can, while respecting the right to a level of privacy for the families of those who have lost their lives,” he said.

“We are cooperating fully with the IOPC in relation to the referral we have made, and we await the outcome of its assessment of what further action may be required. Until this has been completed, we will be unable to provide further details on a number of matters.”

Mrs Pattison reportedly made a “distressed call” to a family member on Saturday evening but by the time the relative arrived, the family were dead.

Mr Pattison’s gun licence had been recently renewed, the BBC said.

A source told The Daily Telegraph a member of school staff had alerted emergency services after hearing gunshots in the early hours. The Pattisons’ home is surrounded by properties occupied by college staff, the source said.

A spokesman for the ambulance service confirmed that paramedics had attended the home but would give no further information.

Reports suggested officers on Monday cordoned off the college rifle range, which is next to where the Pattisons lived.

But police denied that it was connected to the murders.

“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,” said the force.

Police on Monday said a coroner’s investigation had been opened but they were confident no one else was involved.

Mrs Pattison became Epsom’s first female head teacher in September after spending six years in the same role at Croydon High, an all-girls’ school in south London. Her friends and colleagues have paid tribute, saying she was a “wonderful teacher” and “a delightful person”.

Her husband was a chartered accountant and director of a management consultancy firm called Tanglewood 2016, according to Companies House.

The independent school in Surrey, south-east England, offers both day and boarding education for pupils age 11-18.

Families of boarding pupils at the college, the current Independent School of the Year, pay more than £42,000 ($50,330) a year.

Alumni include Conservative MP Michael Fallon, broadcaster Jeremy Vine and comedian Tim Vine.

It is attended by more than 850 boys and girls and was founded in 1853 to support poor members of the medical profession.

The following decade the school was opened up to non-medical families.

The campus is close to Epsom Downs Racecourse, which is home to the annual Epsom Derby.

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