‘I felt sick’: Mum relives moment of family’s brutal murder

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·4-min read

A shattered mum has shared the moment she realised her daughter and grandchildren were the victims of a horrific attack where they were doused in petrol and set alight in a car.

Hannah Clarke, 31, and her children – Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, – were killed in the incident on a quiet suburban street in Camp Hill in Brisbane's east in February last year.

Her estranged husband Rowan Baxter doused the family's car in petrol and set it on fire during the morning school run, before dying of self-inflicted injuries.

A year on from the tragedy, Hannah's mother Sue Clarke has revealed how she discovered the devastating tragedy and the signs something was wrong beforehand.

"It was surreal," she told B105's Stav, Abby and Matt program.

"I worked just up the road, and we'd heard all the sirens and were sitting there like, 'Oh, what's going on today there's a lot of sirens'.

Hannah Clarke and her three children were killed in Brisbane. Source: Facebook
Hannah Clarke and her three children were killed in Brisbane. Source: Facebook

"Then I went in for morning tea at 10am, and one of the young dentists was flicking through Facebook, and she stopped and said three kids have been burnt to death in a car at Camp Hill.

"I felt sick."

The mother said she quickly dismissed thoughts of it being her daughter and beloved grandchildren, telling herself they would be at school.

"So I rang Hannah, no answer. I thought, 'Oh, she'd be in the middle of a gym class, so that's ok'."

Ms Clarke then sent her daughter a text message before the dentist said the incident happened in Raven Street.

"And then I just knew, I knew straight away," she said.

"And as I looked up two police detectives walked in, so that confirmed it before they said anything.

"It was pretty horrific."

Hannah Clarke and her two daughters at the beach. Source: Facebook
Hannah Clarke and her two daughters. Source: Facebook

Queensland could criminalise 'coercive control'

A year after the horrific domestic violence attack, the former president of Queensland's highest court announced she will advise the state government on criminalising coercive control as a form of domestic violence.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has already flagged plans to criminalise behaviour such as isolating partners from friends, dictating where they're allowed to go and controlling their finances.

Former Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo AC will lead a task force advising the government on potential laws.

She will consult survivors, service providers, legal experts, academics and the wider community, and propose the new laws by October.

"Many women out there are currently in these types of situations, and it's not good enough, and it's not on," Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Wednesday.

"And today we draw a line in the sand just like we did with tackling a whole range of domestic and family violence issues. We will actually tackle this really important issue as well, not just as a government, not just as a task force, but as a community.

"And like we said with domestic and family violence, enough is enough."

Hannah Clarke's mum revealed the moment she found out about their deaths. Source: Facebook
Following Hannah Clarke's death, the Queensland government could criminalise coercive control as a form of domestic violence. Source: Facebook

In response to questions about the length of time taken to set up the task force, Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said it had actually been a commitment made during the November state election.

She said the task force needed at least nine months to gather information.

The attorney-general said coercive control laws in other jurisdictions like Scotland, and England and Wales, will be examined.

"We are the first state in the country to legislate against coercive control and it is important that we consult and get it right for the Queensland context," Ms Fentiman added.

The new laws will be introduced alongside government programs to train first responders and domestic violence case workers to recognise and respond to coercive control.

The government is also planning a community awareness campaign on coercive control.

with AAP

If you or somebody you know is experiencing family violence contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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