Cop ‘gutted’ over car fire deaths comments
QUEENSLAND Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll has apologised for comments made by a detective during a press conference on the deaths of Hannah Clarke and her three children.
Detective Inspector Mark Thompson told media on Thursday that police had to keep "a completely open mind" about the case as they continue to investigate.
"We need to look at every piece of information and, to put it bluntly, there are probably people out there in the community that are deciding which side, so to speak, to take in this investigation.
"Is this an issue of a woman suffering significant domestic violence, and her and her children perishing at the hands of the husband?
"Or is it an instance of a husband being driven too far by issues that he's suffered by certain circumstances into committing acts of this form?"
The statement generated outrage on social media.
What is meant by 'a man driven too far' as a potential explanation for murdering a woman and three children?— beverley wang (@beverleywang) February 20, 2020
I am trying to keep an open mind about the QLD police's need to keep an open mind, but that statement is really testing me.#HannahBaxter #HannahClarke
Dear @QldPolice— 🚒Catherine Perry. (@CatPurry9) February 20, 2020
There is no justification for the brutal murder of 3 children in a car fire. No one is "driven to" setting their children alight. Any members of QPS seen not to condemn this evil behaviour will be seen to be excusing it. There is no "open mind" on murder!
Speaking to the ABC on Friday, Commissioner Carroll apologised for the detective's choice of words.
"I apologize to the community and victims about what's been said," she said.
She also mentioned how Thompson was "distraught" and "gutted" after listening back to the press conference.
"He can't believe how he said that," he said.
Insp Thompson had been asked if "murder-suicide" was the one line of inquiry being pursued.
He was also questioned as to what he meant by the suggestion police were looking "at whether he (Baxter) was driven too far to have done this".
"Is there something you're looking at recently that's occurred between them that may have sparked it?" one reporter asked.
Insp Thompson replied: "Absolutely not. I'm not leaning towards that at all.
"What I was trying to illustrate by my comments were that you do see both in public commentary and in general responses from the community that people will make those allegations.
"Maybe they are scorned members of the community themselves that have had dealings with domestic violence in the past and that's the sort of things that they say in response to an incident like this.
"I am certainly not saying that the Queensland Police Service are taking any view in relation to that at all. We are not doing that. We are keeping an open mind and doing an open investigation which is exactly what we are to do and we are under the direction from the state coroner to do that."
He asked people to come forward and "build a complete and clear picture" for the coroner.
"What I was trying to illustrate is if there are people out there making the comments such as what I've just described, then, please, come forward and substantiate these claims," he said.
"Help us with the information we need to build that picture for the coroner.
"Coronial issues like this have the ability to drive reform amongst issues like domestic and family violence. It is extremely critical people come forward."