QLD Police Criticised For Saying Brisbane Family Killer May Have Been “Driven Too Far”

Queensland Police have come under scrutiny after a spokesperson said investigators will keep an “open mind” regarding the horrific killing of Hannah Clarke and her three young children at the hands of Clarke’s estranged husband Rowan Baxter.

Speaking at a press conference last night, QLD Police Detective Inspector Mark Thompson said authorities are working to compile a “complete and clear” picture for a coronial investigation into the Wednesday incident.

“We need to look at every piece of information,” Thompson said.

“And to put it bluntly, there are probably people out there in the community who are deciding which side, so to speak, to take in this investigation.

“Is this an issue of a woman suffering significant domestic violence and her and her children perishing at the hands of the husband, or is this an instance of a husband being driven too far by issues that he’s suffered by certain circumstances, into committing acts of this form?”

While Thompson later said he was speculating on what members of the community may feel about the case, his initial comments have been scorned by anti-domestic violence advocates for insinuating Clarke may have been culpable for her own death and the death of her children.

Speaking to The Guardian, Women’s Legal Service Queensland chief executive Angela Lynch said the comments give “legitimacy to what has occurred.

“It’s victim blaming. It’s saying that she might have caused this through her own actions.”

On ABC’s The Drum, journalist Jess Hill, whose book Look What You Made Me Do addresses Australia’s issues with domestic violence, said “Honestly, my heart is beating in my mouth, listening to that.”

While saying listeners could choose to give Thompson the benefit of the doubt over his “which side” statement, Hill said, “What’s not really clear is if he’s trying to say that QLD Police are going to ‘get to the bottom’ of whether either of those are true.

“It’s incredibly clumsily framed.

“What I can’t fathom is that someone from the police service could frame a murder, that perhaps that could be substantiated that a man was driven to far, and thus set his family on fire, that that would be the logical result of a man being ‘pushed.’”

In an interview with The Courier-Mail, Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll put the circumstances in less ambiguous terms, saying “Domestic violence is a societal scourge” and called on the community to intervene when necessary.

Investigations are ongoing.

Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online. 

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.