Extreme lengths evil dad went to kill kids
John Edwards had a long history of perpetuating domestic violence on the women and children in his life before the horrific shooting murder of his teenagers Jack and Jennifer.
But crucial elements of his violent past were hidden from the registry staff who granted him a gun licence in mid-2017, due to improper police recording and a report generated by an algorithm, an inquest has heard.
Among the incidents the registry didn't know about were assault allegations against Jack and Jennifer, reported by his ex-wife Olga, which were noted down as a possible "premeditated attempt" by Olga to influence Family Court proceedings.
A year and a half later, the children, Jack, 15, and Jennifer, 13 were dead after their cowardly father gunned them down at home in West Pennant Hills, in Sydney's northwest, before killing himself in a crime that sent shockwaves throughout Australia.
The inquest, scheduled over the next three weeks at the Coroner's Court in Lidcombe, is expected to throw a spotlight on issues of gun licensing and family violence.
On July 5, 2018, John Edwards drove to Pennant Hills station and waited for 13-year-old Jennifer to get off the train so he could stalk her home.
His children were frightened of him, and Edwards didn't know their address, the inquest heard.
Driving a rental car that Jennifer wouldn't have recognised, Edwards tailed his daughter, first on a bus, and then on the eight-minute walk home from the stop.
He pulled up around the time Jennifer arrived and is believed to have either chased or followed her into the house.
Inside, Edwards shot both his children with a Glock pistol. He was at the house for just three minutes. The teenagers were found in Jack's bedroom, crumpled together under the teenager's desk, their bodies marked with multiple gunshot wounds.
Edwards later shot himself at his home in Normanhurst.
Counsel assisting the coroner Katherine Richardson SC described the deaths as an "unimaginable tragedy" that deeply affected many.
"But most of all," she said, "they devastated Jack and Jennifer's mother, Olga, who sadly took her own life six months after her children were killed."
Jack and Jennifer were the youngest of Edwards' 10 children, which he had with seven women.
In mid-2017 he was granted a gun licence under which he legally bought five guns, including the one he used to kill Jack and Jennifer.
Before granting the licence, registry staff reviewed a report that drew incidents from the COPS police database to give some insight into Edwards' history of violence.
The report, which was compiled using an algorithm, showed three incidents of stalking and apprehended violence orders with ex-partners, as well as a recorded AVO taken out by one of Edwards' adult children.
But, Ms Richardson said, the report did not include a number of relevant domestic violence incidents.
Among them was the report made by Olga in December 2016, alleging Edwards had assaulted Jack and Jennifer in 2015.
The way this report was recorded in the system meant it was not picked up in the algorithmically generated report to the registry, the inquest heard.
As well, Ms Richardson said, police noted down this report as a possible "premeditated attempt" to influence Family Court proceedings.
Another incident in which Olga reported to police that Edwards had stalked her after yoga was also not included in the report.
Police accept this incident was not properly recorded in the database, Ms Richardson said, adding that it did not even come up when you searched "John Edwards" in COPS itself.
Among the questions the inquest will consider is: "What, if anything, is likely to have occurred differently as a result of appropriately recording those two reports in the COPS database?"
Had all the relevant incidents been included, the gun registry would have been aware of five allegations of violence stalking from ex-partners, one from an adult child, and two children considered at risk of assault before granting Edwards a licence.
The inquest continues.