Mother loses fight for life

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The Independent Online

Julie Harrison, whose four-year-old daughter was shot dead by her estranged partner, lost her battle for life today.

Ms Harrison, who was seriously injured in the attack, died at 9.30am at St George's Hospital in Tooting, Hampshire police said.



Ex-partner Andy Copland, 56, is thought to have killed the couple's daughter Maisie with a gunshot to the head and mortally wounded Ms Harrison, 40, yesterday morning at their house in Aldershot, Hampshire.



Copland then shot himself.











Ms Harrison's ex-husband said today she was a bubbly personality with lots of friends.

Kevin Moody, 47, said he only found out about the tragedy when he got up this morning.



Print production manager Mr Moody, from Farnborough, Hants, was married to Ms Harrison from 1992 to 1996, when they split amicably.



"She was a good laugh and we had an awful lot of fun when we were together. She was a bubbly personality and had a lot of friends," he said.



Mr Moody said: "We met about 18 months before we married in 1992 at a house we both rented rooms in.



"We didn't have any children and basically we split because she wanted to do the things that a single woman wanted to do and I didn't."



Mr Moody said he kept in touch for a couple of years and that he last saw his ex-wife in 2006 at the funeral of his mother Margaret.



"I had not told her about the funeral, so it was nice of her to come. She seemed happy. She showed me loads of pictures of Maisie on her phone - she was well proud of her.



"She didn't tell me about her partner and I didn't ask. I met him once years ago but I didn't know him," Mr Moody explained.



Mr Moody said that his wife worked as a care assistant before they married and then she looked after mother Betty, who had multiple sclerosis and later died.



He said she had an older brother Chris who, he believed, lived in Wales and was a builder.



He said that Copland's ex-wife ran a care business but he could not remember if Ms Harrison had worked for it when they were married.



"I'm really in shock. It was all a long time ago for me now. At the end of the day she was a woman I loved," he added.



Earlier a neighbour told how police reacted when Copland apparently shot Maisie and Ms Harrison before turning the gun on himself.



Rachael Bryan was at home next door when a friend, Robert Wood, was prevented from parking his car by Ms Harrison's red Renault, which was parked in the road.



"She had dropped the child off and kept the engine running so Robert was kept waiting and he started tooting his horn," Mrs Bryan explained.



"Then a neighbour came up to him and tearfully said he (Copland) had locked his wife in the house and the police have been called.



"We went upstairs to my bedroom window and a police car with lights flashing came and a policeman knocked on the door.



"I suppose he must have seen something through the letterbox because he then started kicking in the door.



"At the next moment another police car sped in. It went right over the roundabout in front of us and he rushed in and then, looking very serious, he came out and used his radio and then the cavalry arrived with police cars and ambulances.



"Later we saw the mother coming out. She had her head strapped across the stretcher and she was put into an ambulance."



Mrs Bryan said that she had only lived at the house for a month and had only smiled at Copland because he seemed angry. She said that Ms Harrison had left the house on November 6.



"When I moved in I was told he came home from work one day and his wife had left with their child.



"I used to see him putting the bins out but I kept my distance. He seemed angry and depressed. People said he used to be OK but his wife had left him."



Maisie's school, St Michael's Infants in Aldershot, paid tribute to the little girl.



Head teacher Liz Mathias said: "We were devastated to hear about the tragic incident involving Maisie.



"She was a lovely little girl and a daughter that anyone could be proud of.



"Although she had not been at our school for very long, Maisie was an involved member of the our school community and she will be sadly missed."



Today the end-of-terrace house in Church Hill remained sealed off by police as forensic examinations continued. Three officers were standing guard.



Floral tributes continued to be placed near the house with two women laying flowers and crying before leaving.



It appears the shootings took place as Maisie was dropped off for an access visit yesterday morning.



Officers were called to the terraced property when a neighbour dialled 999 to report a row shortly after 10am and were met with a "very traumatic" scene.



Officers attempted to resuscitate Maisie but she was pronounced dead a short while later.



In an online tribute, family friend Sally Denny said: "Maisie was so full of life - a happy, funny and cheeky girl who knew how to bring a smile to people's faces.



"My last memory of her was seeing her perform in the school nativity. She was dressed as a star but she will always be an angel."



Writing on Friends Reunited recently, Ms Harrison said she was in a new relationship and "living with someone".



Alongside a picture of her and Maisie, she said she was "happily caring for my daughter" and wanted to "go with the flow".