Breach of AVO stab death probed
Andrea Pickett was repeatedly stabbed outside her cousin's North Beach home. Picture: Supplied

A coronial inquest has begun into circumstances surrounding the murder of a Perth mother-of-13 by her husband within days of her reporting safety fears after he breached a restraining order and confronted her with a knife.

Andrea Pickett was repeatedly stabbed on January 12 2009 outside her cousin's North Beach home where she had moved in a bid to keep safe from her violent and threatening husband Kenneth Charles Pickett.

Kenneth Pickett, who is now serving a life jail term with a minimum of 20 years over the murder, had been released on parole at the time after serving jail time for threatening to kill the mother of his 13 children.

Today, the WA Coroner heard Mrs Pickett had contacted police on January 10 2009 and reported finding a machete placed on her bed and another incident in which he had confronted her with a knife in Mirrabooka.

The inquest heard Mrs Pickett had reported the breaches of a violence restrainig order and that they came against a background of him previously threatening to harm her.

Police had offered assistance with emergency housing however Mrs Pickett had decided to stay at a cousin's home where she believed she would be safe and where she believed her husband would not find her.

The inquest was told Crisis Care had been unable to find accommodation for Mrs Pickett to stay with her seven dependent children.

Police had not located Mr Pickett until January 13 - after he murdered his wife. The inquest was told police only found his relevant address, which was required as part of his parole, through active investigation because the system at the time did not upload parole release details and had contained an old address from him.

The system was not automatically updated with parole information, meaning police could not see parole conditions or details on their database - including a condition that Mr Pickett not contact his wife.

Today, Coroner Alastair Hope suggested that police systems at the time had been "unfortunately deficient".

A police detective agreed that more readily accessible parole information would be helpful for police but unfortunately "the Government agencies' systems don't talk to each other".

The inquest heard systems had since been improved and now contained more detail about parole but still did not necessarily have relevant parole addresses automatically uploaded.

The inquest also heard that an alert system which could have been used to "flag" Mrs Pickett for high priority if she called police for help could have been used but had relied on subjective judgment from officers to be implemented.

The system was now mandated to flag a person or address if certain criteria were met.

The police witness pointed out that the unfortunate frequency of breaches of VROs and threats meant there were too few police resources to dedicate officers and vehicles to monitoring or being stationed outside the homes of those at risk of potential domestic violence incidents.

Outside the inquest, Mrs Pickett's brother Gary Bentley said his family was still grieving three years after the Andrea's death and hoped to prevent a repeat of the tragedy, which he partly blamed on a failure of the system to foster communication between agencies.

"If the system was mroe interactive with each other there could have been a lot of things picked up sooner," he said. "I think the system in general (failed her).. the VROs, the lack of support that had been given... there should be a lot more emphasis placed on the VROs and response taken at the time of breaches."

The inquest continues.

The West Australian

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