The murder of two children by their father could have been prevented if he hadn’t been able to access a gun, an inquest has found.
John Edwards shot his 15-year-old son Jack and 13-year-old daughter Jennifer at their home in West Pennant Hills in north-west Sydney in 2018.
Later that day he killed himself.
Today the findings of an inquest into all their deaths were handed down, finding police, the firearms registry and the family law system failed to pick up on the warning signs.
Edwards had a long history of domestic violence but was legally allowed to buy five guns.
Police admitted they either failed to record or even read Edwards’ case notes, which allowed him to legally purchase the firearms – including the Glock pistol that would kill his son and daughter.
The Coroner concluded the bitter custody battle turned murder-suicide was avoidable.
“The deaths of Jack and Jennifer are an unimaginable loss,” State Coroner, Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan wrote.
“It is most distressing that they were both lost at such a young age, with their potential still unfulfilled, and in such violent circumstances.
“It is common within this jurisdiction to describe such deaths as a tragedy.
“It is unquestionable that their deaths, and the subsequent death of Olga, have caused unbearable suffering for many family, friends, and all those whose lives they touched.
“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 that the deaths of Jack and Jennifer Edwards were preventable,” she wrote.
Twenty-four recommendations have been made, including better domestic violence training for police and the decision-makers at the firearms registry.
Another calls for an investigation into the lawyer who represented the children in the family law system.
NSW Police said in a statement it will “review the findings and consider all recommendations that are directed to police”.
“Since 2018, the NSW Firearms Registry has undergone an extensive restructure which has resulted in enhanced compliance and better identification of breaches of the legislation.
“Continued improvements and further reforms are scheduled throughout 2021,” the statement said.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. National Domestic Violence Service: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732). If you are in immediate danger call Triple Zero (000).
This Sunday, watch the 60 Minutes investigation into John Edwards and the tragic killings of Jack and Jennifer. Only on Channel 9 after Married at First Sight.