Epsom College’s first female headteacher is believed to have been shot dead by her husband who then killed their daughter and himself in a murder-suicide.
The bodies of Emma Pattison, 45, her husband George, 39, and seven-year-old Lettie were discovered by police at their home on the grounds of the prestigious £42,000-a-year school in Surrey.
Mr Pattison – who had a shotgun licence – is thought to have killed his family late on Saturday night. Earlier that evening his wife made a distressed call to a family member but all three were dead by the time they arrived, The Times reported.
Surrey Police today confirmed it had recovered Mr Pattison’s gun and was treating the case as a murder investigation with ‘no third-party involvement’.
The force also confirmed it had spoken to Mr Pattison about his shotgun licence four days before the deaths after he phoned to inform them of his new address.
It said it has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) ‘as a matter of routine’.
The deaths have been reported to the coroner and post-mortem examinations will take place later this week.
Emma Pattison, 45, was found dead with her husband George, 39, and seven-year-old daughter Lettie after police were called on Sunday. The family is pictured together
Mrs Pattison with her daughter Lettie. The seven-year-old has been described as a ‘little angel’ and ‘perfect in every way’ following her death on Sunday morning
Mr Pattison had not been previously reported to the police, sources reportedly told The Times.
Farmers’ girl who went on to join teaching elite
Emma Pattison (pictured) grew up on a farm in Lincoln but rose to become the first female head teacher of one of Britain’s leading private schools.
She would get up to feed the chickens at 6.30am each morning before attending her girls’ school in Sleaford.
After reading French and English literature at Leeds University, she joined Thomas Cook’s graduate training scheme hoping to travel.
But instead she found herself based in Bromley, south London which she later joked was not ‘quite the sparkly lights’ she’d imagined. She changed careers after flicking through the Times Educational Supplement in a coffee shop, and teaching took her from South Leicestershire to a series of Surrey private schools in Caterham, Guildford and Leatherhead.
She became head at Croydon High School in south London in 2015. Friends told the Mail she ‘couldn’t wait’ to get started at Epsom in 2022 as the first ever female head. And within a month of her arriving, it had scooped Independent School of the Year and the Student Wellbeing award.
However, in 2016 he reported his wife to Surrey Police for allegedly striking him, the newspaper claimed.
She was spoken to by officers but her husband quickly withdrew the complaint, saying it was trivial.
Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey, senior investigating officer on the case, said today: ‘This is an incredibly traumatic incident and we are 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.
‘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.’
Inspector Jon Vale, Epsom and Ewell’s borough commander, said: ‘I know this incident has caused upset and sent shockwaves through the local community.
‘Although we are confident that this incident was contained to one address, and there is no risk to the wider public I fully understand the concern this can and has caused members of our communities.
‘Therefore, the public can expect to see a heightened police presence in the local area in the coming days.
‘If you are concerned about anything at all I’d urge you to approach an officer and discuss your concerns with them. They will be ready and happy to help you however they can.
‘I would like to send my continued thanks to the school and our public for their understanding while the investigation progresses.’
Police added that the Epsom College firing range had not formed part of its enquiries.
Surrey Police today confirmed it had recovered Mr Pattison’s gun and was treating the case as a murder investigation with ‘no third-party involvement’
Emma Pattison and her husband George (front row, right) pictured at a recent school event. The couple were found dead in the headteacher’s house at Epsom College
Accounts reveal Mr Pattison’s business had just £31 worth of reserves compared to £22,268 the year before, MailOnline can reveal.
The last published accounts of his management consultancy, based in Reigate, Surrey, show its financial situation had taken a turn for the worse.
Although the business had £38,048 in assets it faced tax and social security costs of £30,350 and bank loan an overdrafts of £7,535 leaving the company with barely any cash reserves.
Mr Pattison was the company’s sole director, and was the largest shareholder with 112 shares in the company, with his wife owning 20 shares.
The accounts for the business published in May last year and covering the year ending October 31, 2021, show George also had an outstanding loan from his company of £14,076.
The paperwork was up to date and details for 2022 were due to be published later this year.
Mr Pattison, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, worked as a chartered accountant and ran his own business, often working from home, and owned luxury cars, former neighbours said.
He started Tanglewood 2016 Ltd in October of that year, having previously been a director of Rees Charles Capital Limited.
Mrs Pattison appearing on a pupil podcast in December, when she spoke of experiencing some ‘really big changes’ including taking new jobs, moving house and getting a new dog
Mrs Pattison had taken up the post at Epsom College last September and was said to be ‘excited’ about her role as the first ever female head.
Only weeks ago she told a podcast presented by pupils that moving to the prestigious school had been a ‘really big change’ and that her husband, whom she married in 2011, had also unexpectedly changed jobs.
‘In terms of transition, it’s been a really big change for my family,’ she said in December.
‘We’ve moved house, we’ve bought a dog. I’ve got a new job, my husband has got a new job. That wasn’t meant to happen, but it did, and my daughter has started a new school so there’s been a lot of change for us as a family.’
Forensics officers were seen entering the property, where a Range Rover and BMW 8 series belonging to the family were parked on the driveway.
Mr Pattison was a ‘successful’ chartered accountant known by friends for his ‘fast cars’, though he was said to be ‘much quieter’ than his wife.
The family had just sold their four-bedroom home in Caterham, Surrey, for a rumoured £1.5million.
They had lived there while Mrs Pattison was head teacher at Croydon High School, another prestigious independent school a few miles down the road.
Mrs Pattison shared a photo of her with a colleague after Epsom was named Independent School of the Year
Parents of ex-pupils told how Mrs Pattison was an ‘amazing head teacher who completely changed the community’ in her six years at the girls’ school.
‘She knew every single member of the school – every child – she knew everything about them,’ said parent Jamal Hirani.
Another parent, who asked not to be named, said: ‘She turned the school around, and she did so many things that enriched the children’s lives.
‘She was slight but very formidable, she knew all of the pupils by name. She was exactly what you would want from a head teacher.’
Friends of the couple and former business associates of Mr Pattison were too upset to talk when approached by the Mail.
Neighbours of their old property in Caterham were struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
A woman living next door said: ‘It is just awful. I used to see Emma going for runs up the lane. She was also a good piano player.
‘I didn’t see George so much, he was quite quiet and kept himself to himself. But their daughter was so happy. You used to hear her playing in the garden, she was always asking them questions and just seemed like a happy, inquisitive little girl.’
The headteacher, who was described by the parent of a former pupil as ‘slight but very formidable’, had taken up the role just five months before her death
Epsom College shared a post about the ‘shocking and tragic’ news of the headteacher’s death
Chloe Rathbown, 27, a nursery worker who used to look after Lettie, said she was heartbroken over her death.
‘They were such a lovely family and Lettie was perfect in every way,’ she told The Times.
John Wildgoose, the photographer who captured the family just last month for the school’s announcement of her headship, said Lettie was a ‘little angel’ and that the family had an ‘obvious bond’ and big plans for the future.
Previous neighbours of the couple described Mrs Pattison as a warm presence and said they were shocked to hear of the deaths of a ‘normal, happy family’.
Another woman who lived locally said Lettie was particularly fond of her dog, adding: ‘She was just a typical, well brought-up, lovely little girl. It’s just tragic.’
Surrey Police confirmed that the family’s new pet Labrador, Bella, was being looked after by relatives.
Epsom College pupils attended a chapel service yesterday. Staff are understood to be telling parents they may close early this week for day pupils.
The school, which teaches more than 850 boys and girls aged 11 to 18, was the 2022 Independent School of the Year and counts BBC journalists Jeremy Vine and Nicholas Witchell among its former pupils.
An Epsom College spokesman said: ‘The College community will be coming together to process the news, grieve and pay our respects to a wonderful head.’