Sydney teens' murders preventable: coroner

·2-min read

WHO

* Jack Edwards, 15, and his sister Jennifer, aged 13, were shot dead in their Sydney home on July 5, 2018, after their father John Edwards stalked his daughter on her way home from school. The father, 67, took his life soon after.

LEAD-UP TO THE MURDERS

* The children and their mother Olga left Edwards in March 2016 after years of abuse. Acrimonious Family Court proceedings ensued.

* Edwards began legally acquiring permits to fire and buy guns from late 2016, while concurrently battling Olga in the Family Court.

INQUEST

* Over three weeks in September 2020 and some extra hearings, NSW Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan heard from more than 30 witnesses.

* Former partners spoke of how Edwards, from as early as 1968, had made their life hell through physical, emotional and financial abuse.

FINDINGS

* Despite policies insisting they do, local police failed to investigate when Olga reported John Edwards' abuse in 2016 and 2017.

* Gun registry staff were unaware of their key obligations and completely failed to recognise the pattern of domestic abuse on John Edwards' police record.

* The lawyer tasked to represent the children in the Family Court failed to ensure the court was fully informed of Jack and Jennifer's views.

RECOMMENDATIONS

* Police bolster mandatory domestic violence training and start auditing DV reports annually to ensure officers are complying.

* Gun registry staff get training to recognise risks of domestic violence.

* Better information sharing between the gun registry, police and the Family Court to ensure all are aware of a person's risks.

* Jack and Jennifer's Family Court lawyer be investigated by a disciplinary body.

* 24 recommendations in total.

QUOTES FROM NSW CORONER

"It is unquestionable that their deaths and the subsequent death of Olga have 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.

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