Emma Pattison: Police refer themselves to watchdog over contact with husband days before deaths
Police believe that the husband of Epsom College headteacher Emma Pattison shot his wife and daughter dead just days after they spoke to him on the phone about his gun licence.
George Pattison was found dead alongside his wife and seven-year-old daughter Lettie at their home on the grounds of the private school in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Investigators said a gun registered to Mr Pattison was found at the scene, but that the causes of death would not be officially confirmed until post-mortem examinations have been completed.
He had been in contact with Surrey Police over his firearms licence just over two days before the killings, and the force has referred itself to the police watchdog.
A Surrey Police spokesperson said: “We had contact with George on 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).”
The Independent understands that Surrey Police had carried out a “phone review” regarding the details of Mr Pattison’s gun licence, and had not interviewed him in person or visited the family home.
Police had separately investigated an allegation of domestic violence, against Ms Pattison, in 2016 but it did not result in a prosecution.
Officers were called to the family’s home, on the grounds of Epsom College, by paramedics shortly after 1am on Sunday.
The BBC reported that a relative had driven to the house after Mrs Pattison made a “distressed call” late on Saturday evening, but they arrived to discover the family dead.
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.”
The IOPC confirmed it had received a referral because of recent police contact with Mr Pattison last week.
“We are assessing the available information to determine what, if any, further action may be required from us,” a spokesperson added.
Ms Pattison had spoken about how there was “so much to look ahead to and be excited” about weeks before her death.
Appearing on the school’s Epsom Insight podcast in December, Ms Pattison spoke of her arrival as headteacher in September.
She said the transition from her previous job in Croydon had been a “big change” for her family, with her daughter moving school and her husband getting a new job.
“There has been a lot of change for us as a family but it’s been wonderful,” Ms Pattison said. “There is so much to look ahead to and be excited about … there is so much to come.”
Dr Alastair Wells, chair of the board of governors at Epsom College, said pupils and staff were in “utter shock and disbelief” over the deaths.
“Our immediate thoughts and condolences are with Emma’s family, friends and loved ones, and to the many pupils and colleagues whose lives she enriched throughout her distinguished career,” he added.
“Emma was a wonderful teacher, but most of all she was a delightful person. In time we will commemorate Emma and her family, in the appropriate way, and in line with the wishes of her family.”
She was formerly the headteacher of Croydon High School, whose chief executive Cheryl Giovannoni described her as a “much loved and respected” colleague, “as well as a talented head and teacher and a dear friend to many of us”.
Epsom College, which was named independent school of the year in 2022, has alumni including Conservative MP Sir Michael Fallon, broadcaster Jeremy Vine and comedian Tim Vine.