An inquest into the deaths of two children at the hands of their father has heard their mother was prematurely “written off” by police when she reported assaults 18 months earlier.
- John Edwards told police his estranged may file a false report to influence family court
- Police incorrectly recorded her report of his assault towards their children
- Edwards shot dead the children in 2018, before shooting himself
Jack, 15, and Jennifer, 13, were shot dead by their father John Edwards in July 2018 after he tracked them to the Sydney house they fled to with their mother.
Ms Edwards went to police in late December 2016 and told them Edwards had assaulted their children in the previous 18 months, an inquest into the deaths heard.
The incident was incorrectly classified on the police database as “domestic violence — no offence detected” and a note was added that it “may be a premeditated attempt to influence future Family Court and divorce proceedings”.
Chief Inspector Sean McDermott, the manager of the NSW Police Force Domestic and Family Violence Team, today told the inquest that was wrong.
“It was premature,” he told the court.
“Viewed in the context of what we’d call a delayed report … it was open to the officer to be suspicious.
“But it was too early to write her (Ms Edwards) off, if you like, without having spoken to the children.”
Ms Edwards was asked to bring her children back to the station to speak with officers, but police should have “proactively” gone to find them when this didn’t occur, Chief Inspector McDermott said.
The incident should have been recorded as “assault — DV” with the children’s names as the victims, he said.
The court heard nine months before Ms Edwards’s report, John Edwards also went to a police station to warn police she may make false allegations against him in order to win a custody dispute.
He insisted an event be recorded in the database.
Chief Inspector McDermott said there was “a fine line” between recording what may be construed as “victim blaming” and police recording facts of a matter.
After he shot his children, Edwards drove to his nearby home and turned his gun on himself.
The children’s grief-stricken mother took her own life five months later.
The court has previously heard Edwards had a long history of domestic violence against a string of previous partners and several of his 10 children.
The inquest continues.