A detective investigating the tragic deaths of a family at the heart of a domestic abuse tragedy has sparked fury after he said Rowan Baxter had been “driven too far” by his estranged wife.
Hannah Clarke, 31, and her three children Laianah, 4, Aaliyah, 6 and Trey, and Baxter, 42, were found dead in a car in Brisbane, Australia on Wednesday.
It has been alleged the former Rugby player doused a car in petrol before setting it alight.
Addressing reporters at a news conference on Thursday, Detective Inspector Mark Thompson of Queensland Police said the force are keeping an “open mind” and will need to "look at every piece of information" and decide "which side to take in this investigation."
He also questioned whether the case is an issue of a woman "suffering significant domestic violence" or an instance of a "husband being driven too far."
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Det Insp Thompson said: "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 he and her children perishing at the hands of the husband, or is it an instance of a husband being driven too far by issue he’s suffered by certain circumstances into committing acts of this form?”
His comments sparked fury from domestic violence campaigners who accused him of blaming Hannah's own "murder" on herself.
One user said: "I’m just staring open-mouthed at this, what the f**k."
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While a second outraged user commented: "The statement was carefully considered, those words were deliberately chosen.
“If the QLD Police position that we need to consider the POV of a man who sickeningly murdered his children, it is untenable, inexcusable, and unacceptable.”
With a third adding: "I disturbs me how many comments I've seen justifying this guys behaviour due to something his wife must have done to him."
The deaths have not been ruled as a murder but a third user accused the police force of "blaming the victims" instead of the alleged perpetrator.
A tweet read: "There isn't a second side here, he killed his babies and his wife.
"By making these comments public you are blaming the victims instead of Baxter."
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At the same press conference, Det Insp Thompson confirmed domestic and family violence orders had been granted against Baxter, saying there had been a “number of engagements” with police between the couple.
He said: “I can confirm Queensland police have engaged with both Hannah and her estranged husband in relation to domestic violence issues.
“We have also engaged with both of the parties in referring them to support services.
“When it comes to Hannah we have dealt with her on a number of occasions and worked with the Brisbane Domestic Violence Centre in supporting Hannah throughout her family issues and we’ve also referred Rowan Baxter to support services as well.”
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