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Published Friday 21 November 2003
THE woman shot dead by her husband at their luxury Berkshire home on Tuesday had decided to divorce him after recovering from breast cancer, it was revealed last night.
Julia Pemberton was killed along with her son William, 17, after her financier husband, Alan, entered the family’s house near Newbury, Berkshire, armed with a shotgun.
Mrs Pemberton, 47, had called police at around 7:30pm on Tuesday to report an intruder, but officers did not enter the property until 1:45am on Wednesday, to find the teenage boy?s body on the driveway and the others inside the house.
Alan Pemberton, 48, shot his son outside the house before shooting his wife and then turning the weapon on himself. It is understood that at least 14 shots were fired during the incident.
Mr Pemberton’s father, Ronald, 77, said that his daughter-in-law had ordered her husband to move out of their £975,000 home and planned to sell it. The mother-of-two had a “new outlook on life” after undergoing surgery for the cancer and decided to end her 23-year marriage.
“They were so happy, but it all started to go wrong when Julia had breast cancer,” he said. “She had an operation and was okay, but after she was told she had the all-clear she suddenly changed and wanted a separation. Alan was devastated and she told him to get out of the house.”
Mrs Pemberton, a health visitor, told her husband she had been unhappy for years and wanted to move on.
Her father-in-law added: “She asked for a divorce last September, and he has been up and down ever since.
“He was hoping it would all be sorted out. I think the house being put up for sale was the breaking point. He told me he had built the house to live in, not to be sold.”
Mr Pemberton’s mother, Marion, 72, added: “My Alan was not a bad person. He would never have done this in his right mind.
“He had been to the courts a number of times for the divorce settlement and that had preyed on his mind.
“He went to the doctor for depression and his GP couldn’t believe it because he knew the family well. He gave him anti-depressants.”
Mr Pemberton said his son was due to take William on his regular driving lesson on the night of the shootings.
The Pembertons said they had no idea their son possessed a gun and they were not aware he was a member of a shooting club.
The only survivor of the family, the Pemberton?s daughter Laura, 19, a university student, was being comforted by her maternal grandparents at their home in Swindon, Wiltshire.
Friends and neighbours of the family yesterday held a mass to offer prayers. Mourners attended the small Roman Catholic church, St Francis De Sales, in the village of Wash Common, a few miles from the Pemberton’s home. Mrs Pemberton had been a reader and member of the congregation along with her two children for more than ten years.
The mass had been altered to include tributes to the family and calls for them to be remembered in prayers.
“We remember Julia, Will and Alan in our prayers as we and the nation at large come to terms with the horror and tragedy that befell us all yesterday,” said Father Paul Townsend at the service.
Afterwards, he said: “This tragedy has had an immense and very sad impact on us all. There has been much grief here. We do our best to remember them all in our prayers”
One mourner, who did not want to be named, said: “Will and Julia were beautiful people. I know it may sound like an odd expression, but it is really the best way to describe them.”
Thames Valley Police will not make any formal identification of the bodies until after post-mortem examinations.