The man who gave John Edwards shooting “hints and tips” before he went on to murder his children has fronted an inquest.
The man who gave John Edwards shooting “hints and tips” before he went on to murder his children has fronted an inquest.

Evil dad given shooting 'hints and tips’

John Edwards trained to improve his shooting accuracy in the months before he murdered his two children, an inquest has heard.

A former St Marys Indoor Shooting Centre employee said he gave Edwards "hints and tips" as he fired almost 100 rounds from a Glock pistol at a coaching session on April 23, 2018.

Two-and-a-half months later, Edwards used the same gun to kill his 15-year-old son Jack and 13-year-old daughter Jennifer.

He stalked Jennifer to the West Pennant Hills home where the children lived with mother Olga on July 5, 2018. Edwards was not meant to know the address.

After murdering the kids, who were found crumpled together under Jack's desk, Edwards drove to his Normanhurst home and killed himself.

Olga took her own life five months later.

Superintendent Anthony Bell was sent to “transform” the gun registry after Jack and Jennifer Edwards were murdered. Picture: Supplied
Superintendent Anthony Bell was sent to “transform” the gun registry after Jack and Jennifer Edwards were murdered. Picture: Supplied

An inquest before state coroner Teresa O'Sullivan is seeking to answer several questions about the tragedy, among them how Edwards was able to get a gun licence and access firearms.

After being turned away from Ku-Ring-Gai Pistol Club and dropping his application to join Hornsby Rifle Club, Edwards was able to join St Marys Pistol Club where he underwent pistol safety training.

He was granted a gun licence in mid-2017 and bought three rifles and two pistols.

The inquest heard on Tuesday that Edwards attended a training session on April 23, 2018, with an employee at the centre and another person who was training.

The employee, whose name is suppressed by the court, said he spent about 40 minutes with Edwards in the session.

At the training, he said, he observed Edwards and gave him "hints and tips" to help him "achieve the goals they were looking to achieve".

"What did John Edwards want to achieve?" asked counsel assisting the coroner Kate Richardson SC.

"Generally, to just become more accurate," the man said. "To not have (bullets) spraying everywhere."

During the session Edwards fired almost 100 bullets from the Glock, the employee said. Edwards fired his Smith & Wesson revolver 15-20 times but said he didn't like the recoil.

An inquest before state coroner Teresa O’Sullivan is seeking to answer questions about the tragedy, among them how Edwards was able to get a gun licence and access firearms. Picture: Flavio Brancaleone
An inquest before state coroner Teresa O’Sullivan is seeking to answer questions about the tragedy, among them how Edwards was able to get a gun licence and access firearms. Picture: Flavio Brancaleone

The same employee also escorted Edwards to his pistol locker at the club on July 4, 2018, the day before the murders, and watched him take out his two pistols.

Usually, members who store guns at the club have swipe card access, but renovations at the time meant people had to be accompanied, the inquest heard.

Edwards appeared "flustered" as he struggled to put a lock on the Glock before placing it in a lockbox, the employee said.

He also closed his pistol locker door hard, and it later had to be fixed with a screwdriver.

But, the employee said, Edwards' overall demeanour did not give him cause for concern.

"He was calm, polite," he said. "A little bit overly so."

The employee said he had no reason to be concerned about Edwards, and another staff member who assessed Edwards said he didn't remember him at all, which meant he would have been a safe shooter.

Staff at the Hornsby and Kur-Ring-Gai clubs said they found Edwards "pushy" and difficult.

But the clubs said he didn't reach the high bar of being a threat to public safety that would have prompted them to contact the NSW Firearms Registry.

The inquest continues.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. The Suicide Call Back service is on 1300 659 467. 

Originally published as Evil dad given shooting 'hints and tips'



TRICK OR TREAT: How to stay safe, keep local and have fun

Premium Content TRICK OR TREAT: How to stay safe, keep local and have fun

She has more fun than kids do at Halloween, and along with guidelines from NSW...

FIVE new tracks from Northern Rivers’ musos you need to hear

Premium Content FIVE new tracks from Northern Rivers’ musos you need to hear

Check out five of the best and newest singles from Northern Rivers musicians this...

Teachers ‘outraged’ over decision to close schools

Premium Content Teachers ‘outraged’ over decision to close schools

Mega school development was announced for the North Coast this week