The cop who heard domestic violence allegations from the mum of two teenagers who were later murdered by their father has conceded she made errors in recording the complaint, categorising it as “no offence detected” instead of as an assault.
The way the complaint was put into the system meant it didn’t show up in a report considered by the firearms registry before the dad was granted a gun license a year before the murders, the inquest has heard.
Jack, 15, and Jennifer, 13, were gunned down by their father John Edwards on 5 July 2018 in the West Pennant Hills home in northwest Sydney where they lived with their mother Olga.
John took his own life shortly after the murders at his Normanhurst home. Olga died by suicide five months later.
Despite having a long history of domestic violence, John was granted a gun licence in mid-2017 and obtained five firearms, including the semiautomatic pistol he used to kill his children.
The horrific crime is now being investigated by state coroner Teresa O’Sullivan.
Senior constable Brooke Cooper told the inquest she usually teaches road safety to kids but was filling in as a general duties officer on December 29, 2016, when Olga Edwards attended Hornsby Police Station.
Olga disclosed three separate assaults against Jack and Jennifer to Ms Cooper, including incidents where John hit and kicked Jack for using his iPod and slapped Jennifer when she didn’t go to sleep.
But the report was recorded in the police database as “domestic violence: no offence detected” rather than as a domestic violence assault.
Olga — not Jack or Jennifer — was recorded as the “victim” in the incident.
All of this went against NSW Police domestic violence standard operating procedure, which Ms Cooper said she had not read at the time of Olga’s complaint and still hadn’t read today.
She agreed that she should have recorded Olga’s complaint under domestic violence assault, rather than as a domestic violence incident where no offence was detected.
Ultimately, the way Olga’s report was recorded meant it didn’t turn up in an automated report that was considered by the firearms registry before John was granted a gun licence, the inquest has previously heard.
Nine months earlier, in March 2016, John had turned up at the same police station and demanded senior constable Jenny Barnes make an official record noting his belief that Olga would try to make false accusations against him in order to win their Normanhurst family home in the divorce.
He paid $450,000 for the home in 2000 and transferred it to Olga in 2013, he told Ms Barnes.
Ms Barnes said she checked with supervisor Sergeant Sean Ronning, who told her: “Well, if he wants it recorded, we should just do what he wants.”
The complaint was subsequently recorded in the database, Ms Barnes said.
On its opening day, the inquest heard John was granted a gun licence in mid-2017 despite the firearms registry having access to an automated report that detailed at least three AVOs sought by ex-partners and another by one of his adult children.
But even more incidents were missing from the automated report, including Olga’s 2016 police report and another report she made in February 2017 alleging John had stalked her to a yoga class.
The way the yoga incident was recorded in the police database meant it did not even come up in a search for “John Edwards”, the inquest heard.
The inquest continues.