Hopes for inquiry into WA family massacre

Michael Ramsey
·3-min read

An inquest will not be held into the Margaret River family massacre, but there are hopes it will be examined by a West Australian parliamentary committee.

Peter Miles, 61, shot dead his wife Cynda, their daughter Katrina and her four children - daughter Taye, 13, and sons Rylan, 12, Arye, 10, and Kadyn, eight - before turning the gun on himself at Forever Dreaming Farm in Osmington in 2018.

The children's father, Aaron Cockman, had urged the state government to take action after Coroner Ros Fogliani ruled that a public inquest was unlikely to generate further evidence.

Attorney-General John Quigley on Tuesday said he had been advised he did not have the legal power to order the staging of a coronial inquest.

But Mr Cockman has agreed to instead pursue an inquiry by the upper house Community Development and Justice Standing Committee.

Flanked by Mr Quigley and his parents Philip and Kim, an emotional Mr Cockman said he still couldn't look at photos of his children.

"I wouldn't say I'm coping, I would say that I'm living," he said.

"I've got to be careful when I think too much in depth about the children. Because when I think too much in depth, I get too low and I just want to be dead with them."

Mr Cockman, who was estranged from Katrina and locked in a bitter custody dispute with her, believes his ex-father in law had been planning the killings for some time.

Detectives and forensic officers spent days scouring the 11 hectare hobby farm, about 20km from the tourist hub of Margaret River.

Three guns licensed to Mr Miles were found.

It emerged Mr Miles had called police after killing his family and spoke for two minutes before taking his own life.

Mr Cockman said he believed a parliamentary inquiry would be more effective than an inquest.

The hearings would be held in public and the committee would have the power to compel witnesses to appear.

"Of course, Peter Miles is to blame but what causes that to happen in the first place. That's why I want everyone to get together and look at this situation," Mr Cockman said.

"I think of my kids and what happened to them ... I want change to come from this."

Mr Quigley said the chair of the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee, Liberal MP Peter Katsambanis, had indicated support for holding the inquiry.

It would not be held before the March state election, but Mr Quigley is hopeful it would be "first cab off the rank" for the new parliament.

A formal decision is likely when the committee meets next month.

Mr Cockman hopes any potential inquiry will examine the role of family court issues in contributing to family violence incidents.

"Children and family separation should be seen as not a court issue, it's a health issue," he said.

"It should stay out of the courts, away from lawyers."

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