Grisly final moments of teens brutally murdered by dad

Ash Cant
·5-min read

WARNING – DISTRESSING CONTENT: The grisly final moments of two Sydney teenagers have been revealed after they were murdered by their father

Jack Edwards, 15, and his sister Jennifer, 13, were shot dead on July 5, 2018, after their father John Edwards stalked his daughter on her way home from school.

On Wednesday, NSW State Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan released a report detailing the final moments of the siblings lives.

On the afternoon of the murders, Jennifer got off the bus on Pennant Hills Road in Sydney's northwest.

She walked home in about eight minutes and Jack was already at home playing Fortnite in his bedroom.

At around 4.59pm, Edwards drove into the driveway of the Hull Street home just after Jennifer entered through the front door and dumped her school bag. 

Sydney teenagers Jack, 15, and Jennifer Edwards, 13, were murdered by their father in 2018. Source: AAP
Sydney teenagers Jack, 15, and Jennifer Edwards, 13, were murdered by their father in 2018. Source: AAP

The coroner's report said Jennifer then fled down the hallway to her brother's bedroom.

"Jennifer crouched down and hid under Jack’s desk, curled up in a foetal position, while Jack also sought to hide under the desk, covering Jennifer with his body," the report said. 

Edwards followed Jennifer to Jack's bedroom where he fired ten shots at the siblings.

Both of the teenagers died hiding under the desk in Jack's bedroom, suffering injuries "incompatible with life".

John Edwards, 68, murdered his two children in 2018. Source: AAP
John Edwards, 68, murdered his two children in 2018. Source: AAP

Bruce Wilson, who also lived on Hull Road, heard four loud bangs while he was sitting out the back of his home on that afternoon.

Mr Wilson saw a male, who was later identified as Edwards, and asked if everything was alright — Edwards did not respond and drove off.

CCTV footage taken from opposite the children's home showed Edwards driving out of the driveway just two minutes and 11 seconds after he arrived.

Mr Wilson went up to the teen's home, and asked if everything was all right through the front door, which was wide open. He spoke with other neighbours who also heard the bangs.

At 5.20pm, Mr Wilson called the police and five police officers were at the scene in about 15 minutes.

Edwards took his own life shortly after the murders and Jack and Jennifer's mother, Olga, took her life in December 2018.

Flowers and tributes are seen at a property in West Pennant Hills, Sydney, Saturday, July 7, 2018. A father killed his 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter at the property on Thursday afternoon. On Friday the 68-year-old, John Edwards, was found dead in his own home in the nearby suburb of Normanhurst after taking his own life.
Both Jack and Jennifer Edwards died hiding under a desk, Source: AAP Image

Coroner says teens deaths were 'preventable'

Ms O'Sullivan found a litany of errors made by multiple authorities and detailed them in her report,

The coroner found police failed to make reasonable inquiries after the children's mother, Olga, reported instances of Edwards' abuse and stalking in 2016 and 2017.

Gun registry staff, in the job without any formal training, then failed to recognise Edwards' long pattern of domestic violence when granting him various permits and licence to shoot and buy pistols and rifles.

The coroner could not be satisfied Edwards initially started gathering permits in order to murder his children.

But she said he'd formed that intent by April 2018, when he acquired his second pistol.

Her voice wavering at times, the coroner said it was unquestionable the deaths of the children and their mother's December 2018 suicide had caused unbearable suffering for many.

"However, to describe this as a tragedy is to import a sense of inevitability that nothing could have been done to change the outcome," she said.

"Instead, the evidence before this court plainly reveals the deaths of Jack and Jennifer were preventable."

Detectives are seen at a property in West Pennant Hills, Sydney, days after the father killed his two children. Source: AAP
Detectives are seen at a property in West Pennant Hills, Sydney, days after the father killed his two children. Source: AAP

Among her 24 recommendations, Ms O'Sullivan has called for the process allowing people to shoot guns on-the-spot to be abolished, police officers' training to include more on domestic violence and regular audits of police reports to ensure they comply with best practice.

Despite the NSW Police's overhaul of the gun registry in response to the deaths, the coroner said more was needed to address the "serious, systemic failures" present until July 2018.

She also called for better information sharing between the registry, police and Family Court to verify answers given by applicants, including whether they were subject to family law proceedings.

Independent children's lawyer Debbie Morton, who was tasked to represent Jack and Jennifer's best interests in the Family Court, was referred to a NSW lawyers' body for possible disciplinary action.

A cleaner is seen at a property in West Pennant Hills, Sydney, Saturday, July 7, 2018.
The coroner said both Jack and Jennifer Edwards' deaths were preventable. Source: AAP

The coroner found she hadn't properly considered objective evidence, statements by Olga Edwards and the children's concerns before addressing the Family Court on Edwards' risk.

Gun clubs that interacted with Edwards in 2016 and 2017 adhered to their obligations, the coroner found.

But she recommended a new law forcing gun clubs to tell the registry when they refuse someone membership and give reasons.

Unlike other inquiries, the coroner cannot extend her inquiry and recommendations to address community-wide issues if they don't relate to the deaths in question.

"Notwithstanding, the deaths of Jack and Jennifer serve as a stark remainder of the broader systemic problems that face too many women and children every day," the coroner said.

with AAP

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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