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31 March 2010, 16:47
A mother and her daughter shot dead in Aldershot just after Christmas were killed unlawfully, a coroner has ruled.
Julie Harrison and her four year old daughter Maisie were shot by Julie's former partner, Maisie's father Andrew Copland. He then turned the gun on himself.
North Hampshire coroner Andrew Bradley ruled that Maisie and Julie were "unlawfully killed" and that Andrew Copland took his own life. He also said for Mr Copland to kill his ex-partner and daughter was "abhorrent and could never be justified" and that the reason behind the tragedy would never be known.
A tearful neighbour told the inquest on Wednesday afternoon how she saw Julie die. Rachel Southen was putting her two boys in a car outside her house on December 29th last year, when Julie, 40, pulled up with Maisie.
Mrs Southon told the inquest in Alton that Julie kept the engine running as the door was opened by Andrew Copland, 56, who was holding a 9mm handgun - although Julie did not realise this at the time.
Mrs Southon said, "I saw Julie going up the path and I assumed Maisie was seeing her dad, and
we smiled at each other, but her car was parked in the middle of the road with the engine running as there were no parking spaces, so I could not get out.''
She said she saw Julie disappear into the house and heard the door slam and the bolts go across, "I saw the back of Andy through the glass (of the front door) and then he disappeared.
"I saw Julie banging on the glass and then her head went back - I thought he had hit her or something and then she collapsed."
When I saw her banging I was reaching for the telephone but I knew I could not get in. When I saw her collapse I knew something horrible was happening."
Police arrived within six minutes and had to break down the door. When they arrived Julie was still alive, but Andrew was dead. They found a 1934 Beretta automatic in his hand.
Officers then moved into the kitchen and found the body of Maisie, they believe she had been playing with toys the moments before she was killed.
Julie was airlifted to St George's Hospital in London, but died the next day.