Man 'accidentally shot girlfriend - and then himself'

image captionSophie Taylor and Calum Murray died in the shooting incident

A teenage trainee gamekeeper accidentally shot his girlfriend and then turned the gun on himself, BBC Scotland understands.

The pair - Sophie Taylor, 16, and 18-year-old Calum Murray - died at a cottage just off the A939 road near Tomintoul on Tuesday.

Sophie's family said they had been left "completely shocked" by the death of their "beautiful" daughter.

Mr Murray's family said he would be "treasured forever".

A Grampian Police investigation is continuing into the double shooting.

It is understood Sophie and a friend were cooking dinner for Mr Murray and another friend when the tragedy happened.

It is believed Mr Murray was cleaning a shotgun - which was legally-registered - when it went off and killed Sophie.

Family friend Dru McPherson told BBC Scotland it appeared Mr Murray, who he presumed would be in a "state of shock", ran from the cottage pursued by the others and shot himself.

Officers are not looking for anyone else over the deaths.

In a statement, Sophie's parents David, 41, and Katie, 44, and brother David, 18, said: "Sophie was bright and bubbly and loved spending time with her family and friends. We are immensely proud of her.

"We are a close family who will miss her very much and are completely shocked to have lost her so prematurely."

'Much admired'

Mr Murray's family said: "Calum was a much loved and loving son, brother, grandchild, nephew and friend to many.

"He was raised in the Dunecht and Tillyfourie areas, and attended Westhill and Alford academies.

image captionPolice are investigating the deaths of the two teenagers

"He completed a cookery course before embarking on a career as gamekeeper. Calum was very passionate about his new career. He loved the outdoors, walking with his dogs in the hills and had shown a real flair and desire to progress with his gamekeeping.

"Calum was much admired both by his family and his friends and we are very proud of all he had achieved. He will be loved and treasured forever."

Det Insp Stewart Mackie said: "Officers remain at the scene and inquiries are continuing.

"We're continuing to build a timeline of events and until that is complete it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Sophie was in her fourth year at Speyside High School in Aberlour and due to sit her Standard Grade exams in a few weeks' time.

'Tragic loss'

She was working towards becoming a social worker.

Ella Grant, depute head at Speyside High School, said Sophie had been working hard to prepare for her exams.

She said: "The news of this tragic loss has deeply shocked and saddened us all.

"Sophie was well liked, both by her fellow pupils and by the staff and she will be sorely missed.

"She was a credit to herself, her family and the school. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Sophie's family at this very sad time."

Classmates will be offered counselling when they return to school.

Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman Alex Hogg said: "Firearms and shotguns are part of daily working life in the gamekeeping profession and safety is absolutely paramount.

"Professional gamekeepers and other holders of firearms and shotguns have to abide by extremely strict conditions in order to secure licences.

"One of the most fundamental rules of safety is that you never take a loaded shotgun into a vehicle or a house."

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