On the 29th December 2009 Andrew Copland, a 50-year-old painter and decorator already convicted for violence directed at his former wife murdered his estranged partner Julie Harrison and their 4-year-old daughter Maisie in a jealous rage. He then took his own life. Copland had lured them to his property in Aldershot, Hampshire on the pretence that his daughter was going to stay for a few days. Julie Harrison had ended their relationship some months earlier and Copland was aware that she had met somebody else. He carried out the killings with 9mm Beretta 1934 model semi-auto pistol which he had found along with ammunition discarded in a skip on a job site in Frimley some years earlier. The weapon fired the short 9mm Corto cartridge. He had even discharged the firearm in the property garden on the day he found it and in front of an employer. He had then kept it illegally in his loft.
On the outskirts of Fleet, just 4.5 miles from Copland’s home in Aldershot is a large intersection sheltered on all sides by wooded areas. It is close to Farnborough Airfield and some military training locations. Someone after July 2009, (Google Streetview dated overlap images confirmed), fired 6 rounds, (9mm or similar), into the back of a large direction sign. This configuration is rare because road shooters normally target the pictorial side. This incident might suggest a shooter firing from the offside of a vehicle, perhaps someone on their own. The spread of shot was very widespread. Could this have been Copland, venting his frustrations in a drunken rage, rehearsing a macabre despicable gun slay fantasy. Fired from 8 metres and an angle of 45 degrees the impacts and penetrations varied in consistency. The 1940’s ammunition Copland acquired with the weapon would have laid dormant for long periods in varying temperatures. The propellant in the cartridge cases might have caked thus creating the potential for slight inconsistencies. Just 300 metres prior to this site and coming from the Aldershot direction there is another sign back struck by a similar bullet. Copland’s Beretta held a 7-round magazine. It was a widely issued Italian military sidearm and as a result became a popular wartime trophy amongst the allies. There is no record of how many war trophy firearms have been brought back into the UK since the invention of gunpowder.
The damaged sign is still there today for all to see and study. Hampshire Police were unaware of the existence of this structure until 2014. Could this have been Copland? If it wasn’t, somebody else around the same period armed with a similar firearm perpetrated it. There is likely to be bullet debris still embedded in the impact depressions. Apparently, there are not the resources available to forensically examine them.
The site remains a potential “Memento Mori”