Shock mistakes before evil dad killed kids
A coroner has slammed the state firearms registry for granting John Edwards the gun licence he used to legally buy a pistol to murder his two teenage children.
State coroner Teresa O'Sullivan said the registry failed to comprehend his extensive history of domestic violence, and said NSW Police made mistakes too in how they recorded complaints from his wife, Olga.
The lives of Jack, 15, and Jennifer, 13, were cut short on July 5 2018 when Edwards brutally gunned them down at their home in West Pennant Hills.
The estranged dad, who had stalked Jennifer to the house where she, Jack and Olga lived in secret, then drove to his Normanhurst home and killed himself.
In the wake of Jack and Jennifer's deaths, Olga carried around two tiny urns, one pink and one blue, each containing some of her beloved children's ashes.
She took her own life five months after they died, aged 37.
Last year state coroner Teresa O'Sullivan presided over a three-week inquest where NSW Police, the Family Court, the state firearms registry and two gun clubs were placed under the microscope.
Her conclusions, made public on Wednesday, reveal the myriad and ultimately deadly ways in which Olga, Jack and Jennifer were failed.
"The deaths of Jack and Jennifer serve as a stark reminder of the broader systemic problems that face too many women and children every day," she said.
The murders were the culmination of a long history of domestic violence inflicted by Edwards on a total of seven ex-partners and 10 children.
But the numerous complaints they made to police did nothing to dissuade the firearms registry from granting him pistol and rifle licences in mid-2017.
Magistrate O'Sullivan said the registry showed a "complete failure to appreciate a pattern of domestic violence going back 24 years".
NSW Police made mistakes in how they recorded complaints made by Olga, meaning they were not seen by the registry.
Among them was a report made by Olga that he had assaulted Jack and Jennifer, which was noted down as a possible "premeditated attempt" to influence family court proceedings.
Another was an allegation of stalking after John followed Olga to a yoga class.
"To describe this as a tragedy is to import a sense of inevitability," Magistrate O'Sullivan said.
"That nothing could have been done to change the outcome.
"Instead, the evidence before this court plainly reveals that he deaths of Jack and Jennifer Edwards were preventable."
Consumed with systemic failures, the inquest offered only glimpses of who the teenagers and their mother were before July 5, 2018.
Jack was described as a cheeky and endearing little boy who grew up to be fiercely protective of his sister and mother.
A former teacher of Jennifer's sobbed as she recalled the "kind and gentle" girl who wanted to be a veterinarian.
Olga's former boss remembered her as a bright and impressive solicitor, and her yoga instructor as someone with a "happy, light, joyous" personality.
One of John's adult children remembered seeing Olga after Jack and Jennifer died, the bereaved mother asking her to hold the pink and blue urns.
"She asked me to hold them and when I did I wept," the woman told the inquest.
"Not only for my siblings, but as a mother, feeling Olga's immense grief in my hands."
Originally published as Shock mistakes before evil dad killed kids