Vicky (27) and her sister Emma (25) were shot at a family barbeque by Vicky’s estranged husband, Stuart Horgan, who had a history of domestic violence that had been reported to the police. Vicky & Emma’s mother, Jacqueline, was seriously injured during the rampage and survived. Vicky leaves behind two daughters.
Several weeks after the murders, Stuart Horgan committed suicide whilst on remand in HMP Woodhill, Buckinghamshire.
From the BBC (12 Jun 2004):
FAMILY’S ANGUISH ON BBQ KILLINGS
The father of two sisters shot dead during a family barbecue has spoken of the family’s grief over the tragedy. Vicky Horgan, 27, and Emma Walton, 25, from Berkshire, were killed on Sunday at Ms Horgan’s Highmoor Cross home. The women were “much loved by family and friends and brought joy into many people’s lives”, Simon Walton said. The rest of the family were praying for the recovery of the women’s mother, Jacqueline, who remains in a coma after she was also shot, he added.
“My two daughters, Vicky and Emma, have had their lives taken away from them. “Vicky was a fun-loving and vibrant person who lived for her two young children. “She enjoyed her job at a special needs school and was extremely good with children. “Emma was very independent and had a good circle of friends who will miss her deeply.” Very close He said he was now concerned for his grandchildren. “There are two little girls who have lost their mummy and auntie and have been through a horrific ordeal that nobody should have to go through.” The sisters were very close and supported each other in times of need, he said. “Vicky and Emma’s mum Jacqui, was my wife for more than 20 years. I wish her a full recovery.” Ms Horgan’s estranged husband, Stuart, has been charged with murdering the pair at the Oxfordshire home.
From the BBC (14 Aug 2004):
FUNERAL HELD FOR MURDERED SISTERS
Friends and family have said their final farewells at the funeral of two sisters shot dead at a barbecue. Vicky Horgan, 27, and her sister Emma Walton, 25, were killed by Ms Horgan’s husband Stuart, 39, in Highmoor Cross, Oxfordshire, on 6 June. Their mother Jacqueline Walton, 55, was also badly hurt and left hospital for the first time for the funeral.
Two hundred mourners gathered on Saturday at St John the Baptist Church in Kidmore End near Reading, Berkshire.
Mr Horgan killed his wife and her sister with a single-barrelled shotgun. Two weeks later, he was killed himself with a dismantled disposable razor while on remand at HMP Woodhill in Buckinghamshire. Police later revealed the unemployed bricklayer had a history of violence against his wife, who was a learning assistant at a local special school.
Ms Horgan’s daughters, Jade, seven, and Bobbie, three witnessed their mother’s murder. Since the tragedy, neighbours have raised thousands of pounds for the children, with events including a sponsored bike ride from Hamburg in Germany to Oxfordshire.
A Walton family statement released ahead of the funeral thanked the community for its support. “The family of Jade and Bobbie, Vicky’s children, would like to take this opportunity of thanking all the residents of Highmoor, surrounding areas and those who do not live in the local community for their generosity in giving to the children’s fund. “They would also like to thank all those who were so generous in the laying of flowers and sending cards in memory of Vicky and Emma. All these contributions and acts of kindness have meant a great deal to the family and have been gratefully received.”
The Guardian (07 Oct 2004):
POLICE APOLOGISE FOR MURDER SCENE DELAY
Rosie Cowan, crime correspondent
Police were castigated yesterday for delaying more than an hour before attending an incident where a man shot dead his estranged wife and her sister and seriously injured their mother. All three lay wounded while frantic neighbours tried to give them first aid.
Vicky Horgan, 27, died shortly after a drunken Stuart Horgan, 39, shot her in the head with a .410 shotgun after bursting in on a barbecue at her home in Highmoor Cross, near Henley-on-Thames, in Oxfordshire, on June 6. Her 25-year-old sister, Emma Walton, was shot in the back and died later in hospital. Their mother was in a coma for two weeks but survived.
But despite numerous 999 calls from neighbours, one of whom demanding police and ambulance response more than 50 times while giving a 70-minute running commentary on the horrific scene, armed officers did not arrive for 64 minutes after the first 999 call. It was 87 minutes before paramedics, awaiting police assurance it was safe, attended the wounded, even though it was fairly certain the gunman had fled in the first 22 minutes.
A Home Office pathologist said Vicky Horgan would not have lived, and it was “highly unlikely” Ms Walton would have survived even if she had received immediate medical attention. But he conceded that had a specialist been available there was the “slimmest of possibilities that Ms Walton’s life could have been saved.”
An internal review of the Thames Valley force’s role, overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said there was no justification for the delay, and criticised a catalogue of failure. These included poor decision-making, delay in passing command of the situation to a specialist firearms officer, confusion in the control room and over the emergency services’ rendezvous point.
Peter Neyroud, Thames Valley chief constable, apologised to the victims’ family and local people, and he paid tribute to neighbours, Roy and Georgina Gibson, who called the police and nursed the victims. Vicky Horgan died in Mrs Gibson’s arms, and it was a letter from a furious Mr Gibson which sparked the police inquiry.
He said: “We could have and should have been faster to the scene to protect the wounded and the public of Highmoor Cross. I regret very much the distress which the additional delay caused to the victims and witnesses.”
But Mr Neyroud and Detective Superintendent Mick Tighe, author of the review, said no individual officer was to blame. Instead, they claimed the fiasco was due to failings in training and national policy, which emphasises locating the perpetrator rather than getting to the victims. “The weaknesses identified … are fundamental issues for Thames Valley police and possibly the police service nationally.”
Mr Neyroud admitted police had been overcautious, but said this stemmed from criticism of past incidents where armed officers had shot members of the public. He outlined measures he is putting in place to ensure this never happens again.
Although Horgan, who had a history of domestic violence, was quickly flagged up as a suspect, police held back, fearing, Mr Neyroud said, another Hungerford, the Berkshire town where the gunman Michael Ryan shot dead 16 people and injured 14 before killing himself in 1987. Even when Mr Gibson assured them Horgan had left, they still refused to move in. And they might have delayed even longer had a plainclothes detective, acting on his own initiative, not stopped on his way to work and radioed to colleagues that the gunman was gone.
Horgan was arrested the next day, 100 miles away in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. On June 20 he killed himself by slashing his throat while on remand in Woodhill prison, Milton Keynes, four days after being taken off suicide watch.
Yesterday, Mr Gibson, 70, and his wife, Georgina, 58, packing up to leave their home, said they could not bear to stay. Mr Gibson, who demanded a personal explanation from the Thames Valley chief constable in his letter, said he was satisfied police had admitted their mistakes. “We have seen the report and police have not tried to cover anything up,” he said yesterday. Of the day of the murders, he remembered: “My wife was cradling Vicky, telling her help was on its way. But it wasn’t. She died 45 minutes after we got to her.”
How time was lost
Sunday, June 6, 2004 4.35pm Stuart Horgan climbs over garden fence of house in Highmoor Cross, Oxfordshire, where estranged wife, Vicky Horgan, is having a barbecue. Shoots Vicky’s mother in the stomach, her sister, Emma Walton, in the back, and Vicky in the head. Leaves quickly but exact time unclear
4.37pm Thames Valley police receive first 999 call, from neighbour, Dawn Clarke. Stuart Horgan identified as probable perpetrator. Neighbours Roy Gibson, armed with a piece of wood, and his wife, Georgina, try to give first aid to victims
4.39pm Police control room inspector orders no officer attend the scene. Ambulance service contacted but cannot move in without armed escort. In next few minutes, armed response vehicles alerted and force helicopter dispatched
4.59pm 22 minutes after initial report, it is fairly certain Horgan is no longer in the vicinity
5.04pm Tactical firearms adviser contacted. Henley police station, four miles from house, nominated as emergency services’ rendezvous point
5.05pm First ambulance crew go to the wrong place, old Henley police station, so rendezvous point switched to Emmer Green, five miles from house, but eight miles from first rendezvous point
5.15pm A detective sergeant goes to the house on his own initiative, ascertains offender not present, speeding up deployment of armed officers, but delay due to switch of rendezvous points
5.41pm Armed police enter house 64 minutes after first 999 call, and request ambulance crew
5.45pm Crew refuse as police cannot confirm offender located and area safe
6.04pm Paramedics enter, 87 minutes after initial alert, having received escort and clear assurances from police
The Guardian (22 Feb 2006):
MOTHER WHO SURVIVED BARBECUE KILLINGS CRITICISES POLICE TACTICS
The mother of two daughters who were shot dead at a family barbecue criticised the emergency services yesterday for not reaching the women until more than an hour after the attack.
Police held back because of fears that the gunman, the estranged husband of one of the women, could still be close by.
Jacqueline Bailey, whose daughters Vicky Horgan and Emma Walton died and who was shot in the stomach herself, told an inquest into the deaths of the two women: “The fact that three of us were left in our blood for all that length of time … it is worse than you would treat an animal.” A pathologist told the inquest at Oxford there was “the slimmest possibility” that Ms Walton could have lived if she had received treatment sooner, but that Mrs Horgan could not have been saved.
But a neighbour who went to help the women as emergency workers continued to hold back said Ms Walton had not lost consciousness as she waited for the paramedics and Mrs Horgan lived for 45 minutes after the shooting.
Mrs Horgan, 27, and her sister, Ms Walton, 25, were hit with a shotgun in front of the Horgans’ two young daughters by bricklayer Stuart Horgan at the family home at Henley in June 2004. Horgan, 39, killed himself in prison after being charged over the murders.
Mrs Bailey, 55, told the inquest that Horgan had opened fire as he clambered over a fence. She said: “I turned around and I saw Stuart Horgan. The next thing I remember was a burning sensation in my stomach and a feeling of all my stomach contents coming out and falling to the ground.” She broke down as she described how Ms Walton cried out, “Mum, mum, mum” as she lay bleeding. “I said: ‘Hold on, Em, hold on.’ I was conscious of the delay and I was thinking, ‘Why isn’t anyone coming to help?’ ”
A neighbour, Georgina Gibson, said that despite her pleas, ambulance crews would not treat the three victims until they were given the all-clear by police. She said: “I ran down to get into the back garden when I saw Vicky. I started using clean washing to pad out the wounds.” She said Mrs Horgan lived for about 45 minutes while her sister never lost consciousness as she waited for help.
Paramedic Colin Knight said he was called at 4.40pm but police had not considered it safe for him and other emergency medical crews to enter the house until after 6pm. Pathologist Robert Chapman said Mrs Horgan had been shot in the head at very close range. Ms Walton, who died in hospital, had received a single gunshot wound in her back which had caused severe damage to her liver. He said there was “only the slimmest possibility” she could have been saved.
An internal review of the Thames Valley force’s role, overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, concluded the delay was down to failings in training and national policy, which emphasises locating the perpetrator rather than getting to the victims.
The inquest also heard that Mrs Horgan, 27, had been hit, slapped and burned with a cigarette by her husband. On one occasion he hit her head against a brick wall. Shortly before the tragedy Mrs Horgan had had the fence at her home made higher because she was frightened of her husband. The inquest continues.
See also the Draft Review from the IPCC.