One of two teenagers who were shot dead by their father in their Sydney home kept a cricket bat in his room to protect himself, an inquest has heard.
- John Edwards killed his children at their West Pennant Hills home in 2018
- An inquest into their deaths heard his daughter was scared to turn her back on him
- The court was told Edwards described an assault against his son as a “a clip over the ear hole and a kick up the bum”
Jack and Jennifer Edwards were subjected to “almost daily incidences” of violence at the hands of their father, John Edwards, the court was told.
The principal at the law firm where the children’s mother Olga Edwards worked as a solicitor said she confided in him about frequent occasions when her husband had punched and kicked Jack.
Asked by counsel assisting to elaborate, David Brown replied: “How long have I got?”
He said Ms Edwards had related an incident on a trip to Paris in 2015 where Edwards chased Jack down the street and pinned him up against a wall and assaulted him until a bystander intervened.
Mr Brown described Edwards as a “bully” and said his wife and children were afraid of him.
“Jack was keeping a cricket bat in his room to protect himself and Jennifer was scared to turn her back on him in case he hit her,” Mr Brown said.
The inquest is investigating the deaths of 15-year-old Jack and 13-year-old Jennifer who were shot dead by their father as they cowered in a bedroom at their home in West Pennant Hills in 2018.
It will also investigate the death of Edwards who shot himself a short time later.
The children’s grieving mother took her own life five months later.
Mr Brown represented Ms Edwards during a custody battle with Edwards in the Family Court.
He said Edwards didn’t deny assaulting Jack but described it as “a clip over the ear hole and a kick up the bum”.
Similarly, Edwards admitted hitting Jennifer but characterised it as an accident.
Mr Brown was critical of the role played by the independent children’s lawyer appointed by the court.
He described how the lawyer “threatened to remove the children” from Ms Edwards unless they accompanied Edwards to a psychologist’s appointment, which they were refusing to do because they were afraid of him.
“She should have been listening and she wasn’t,” Mr Brown told the court.
A teacher who taught Jennifer at Gosford High School, whose name has been suppressed, wept as she described her as a “kind and gentle” girl who was excited to be accepted into a selective school.
She said Jennifer seemed isolated and withdrawn though and had trouble making friends with the other students.
“Despite the hardship, she was feeling at home, she still came to school and found joy out of her learning,” she said.
Another teacher who knew Jack since he was in year 1 described him as a “cheeky, very loveable child”.
The inquest continues.