'The kids died peacefully': Father of children killed in family massacre speaks

The shattered father of the four children killed in the Margaret River family murder-suicide says their grandfather did not snap before it is believed he shot them.

Peter Miles, wife Cynda, daughter Katrina and Aaron Cockman’s four children – daughter Taye, 13, and sons Rylan, 12, Arye, 10, and Kadyn Cockman, eight – were found dead at the Miles’ Osmington property, northeast of Margaret River, in Western Australia on Friday.

Aaron Cockman, the father of four children killed by their grandfather near Margaret River in WA’s south on Friday, addresses the media. Source: AAP

“Peter didn’t snap. He’s thought this through. I think he’s been thinking this through for a long time,” Mr Cockman, speaking for the first time since the tragedy, told reporters.

“All the kids died peacefully in their beds.

“They looked all peaceful. How the hell Peter did that, I still can’t figure out. He did a good job. He did a really good job.”

Police forensics investigate the death of seven people in a suspected murder-suicide in Osmington, east of Margaret River. Source: Richard Wainwright/AAP Image via AP

Mr Cockman said he still loved Miles for “who Peter was”.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have Katrina, I wouldn’t have her kids,” the grieving father said.

“So it’s not some random guy off the street who’s taken them away from me – he gave them to me and now he’s taken them away.

“If it had to happen, there is no better person than that.”

The family were allegedly involved in a murder-suicide. Source: AFP

Mr Cockman, who was estranged from Katrina, said he had not spoken to Peter and Cynda for a while, but being angry served no purpose.

“I don’t feel angry – I feel tremendous sadness for my kids,” he said.

“Anger will destroy you. I’m sad but I’ll get through this.”

Australian police found seven dead people on Friday, including four children, in a rural town in the Margaret River wine-growing region, and said guns were involved in the killings.

Mr Cockman said he could talk about his kids all day.

“I could talk about my kids all day — Taye is a beautiful girl,” he said.

“Every time I am thinking about it I think of this group of people. It’s not just a face that pops in my head, it’s like a group of people.

“I think in a sense it’s easier to look at it that way … but it’s only two days, it’s only early. I’ve lost everything in my life.”

Grandfather Peter Miles and his wife, Cynda, were among the seven dead. Source: 7 News
Police at the rural property in Osmington, east of Margaret River, where seven bodies were found.

WA Police commissioner Chris Dawson confirmed the identities of the deceased in what is being described as Australia’s worst mass shooting in more than two decades.

“The loss of any life is tragic, but four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy,” he said.

“This devastating incident will no doubt have a lasting impact on the families concerned, the whole community, and in particular the communities in the southwest. These tragedies take their toll on everybody.”

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said he felt deeply for family members.

“You can’t imagine what they’re going through, you can only offer support, all you can do is express your sorrow and I expect the grieving process will go on for many years for that family,” he said.

If you are concerned about the mental health of yourself or a loved one, seek support and information by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36.