By Carolyn Harris Johnson
Examines the tragic crime of familicide, the homicide suicide of youngsters and a mum or dad within the context of a dispute over custody or entry. The trauma of this offence reverberates during the households, groups and throughout generations, inflicting psychological and actual disorder and social dysfunction.
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However, I believe the information gained from survivors indicates that signs of danger and risk were very evident in the circumstances preceding the offence, and in some cases the risk was apparent for years prior to the offence. These factors were particularly noticeable when the female partner tried to leave the relationship, as several reported trying to do many times before the final separation. It seems that many in the community knew that risk, in the form of threats to harm, existed, but no action was taken.
He was weird. It was because he couldn’t get his own way. He did nothing that day, but the next day he took a gun and went looking for his brother to kill him. He intended to kill him. Luckily, he couldn’t find him. Clare reported that Tom’s violence and possessiveness had caused her to lose her job. She explained: We had a work dinner. When it was time to leave the boss went round and kissed all the women on the cheek. Tom was furious, he was going to punch my boss, it was embarrassing, the men had their jackets off in the car park ready to fight.
She continued: ‘He wasn’t usually violent to me. He used to smash other things, not me. ’ She described how he restricted her movements and her social contact, including contact with THE PEOPLE • family: ‘If I wanted to see my mum I couldn’t pack, I had to get out before he could stop me from going. ’ An aunt of two of the murdered children said of the couple’s relationship that ‘it didn’t feel right. She always gave in to him. He was a control freak. ’ One woman denied that her husband was physically violent, although she had witnessed his violence towards others.