Today host Aly Langdon teared up during an emotional interview with Hannah Clarke’s parents as they discussed the red flags in her abusive relationship.
Hannah Clarke and her three children Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, were murdered by her abusive ex-husband Rowan Baxter, 42, on February 19, 2020.
Ms Clarke was on a school run in Camp Hill, south Brisbane, when Baxter jumped into her car, doused the family in petrol, and set the vehicle alight.
Hannah Clarke’s mother, Sue (right), and father Lloyd (left), retold the heartbreaking moment their daughter said she would create a will because she knew her ex-husband would kill her
Baxter died at the scene from self-inflicted knife wounds and burns to 80 per cent of his body.
Ms Clarke escaped the car and was desperately trying to get help to save her children – all while still on fire and suffering horrific burns.
‘My babies are in the car … why didn’t I just stay in the car with them ?,’ she said.
‘I didn’t save my kids, I couldn’t save my kids.’
She died in hospital later that day with burns to 97 per cent of her body.
Just two weeks earlier Baxter tried to break one of Ms Clarke’s wrists.
Today host Aly Langdon was teary in an emotional interview with Ms Clarke’s parents set to air tomorrow morning
Ms Clarke’s parents told Langdon of the heartbreaking moment their daughter knew she was going to die.
‘She came to me the week before he killed them asking me if she should get a will,’ Ms Clarke’s mother Sue Clarke said.
‘I said’ why? ‘ and she said ‘well, what happens Mum when he kills me? He’ll be in jail and I’ll be dead. What happens to the children? ‘ she said ‘I want you and Dad to have them’. ‘
A teary Langdon then said ‘no one should have to live like that’.
The interview with Ms Clarke’s parents will air on Today’s show on Thursday.
The inquest into the murder of Hannah Clarke and her family came to a close on March 31 after hearing how many times Ms Clarke pleaded for help.
Rowan Baxter, 42, died from self-inflicted knife wounds after setting his children and ex-wife alight in February 2020
Ms Clarke made contact with both police and a domestic violence support service but was deemed she was not in ‘immediate risk’.
In November she told a Brisbane DV support worker that Baxter strangled her during sex just three months before her death, but the worker did not pass the important information on to police.
On Ms Clarke’s risk assessment the worker wrote that Baxter ‘put his hands around Hannah’s neck during sex without her consent and would not remove them’ because she believed it was important information for other people working on the case.
However, the worker said she didn’t pass on the information because she thought Ms Clarke would have shared the information herself.
‘So unfortunately, this sort of information wouldn’t be something I’d usually share with the police,’ she said.
‘I knew Hannah had been in regular contact with the police. I think this information would have been information I assumed that the police would know as well. ‘
However the inquest heard Ms Clarke had not informed police she was choked and that it was a missed sign she was at extreme risk.
Hannah Clarke had escaped the burning family car and laid on the grass begging people to save her three children
‘Again I think it really depends on the situation and I’m just making an assumption here… sometimes in those sort of situations where it’s sexual and there hasn’t been any pressure used, they might not consider that strangulation,’ the worker said .
The worker said police and domestic violence services were not linked in the way they should be to protect at-risk partners.
‘Unfortunately DV services and police aren’t always as linked in as we would want them to be,’ the support worker said.
‘Sometimes I’ve had police that have been able to respond really well and go above and beyond.
‘But other times I’ve had experiences where I’ve had to advocate and unfortunately a breach hasn’t been taken seriously.
‘I’ve had experiences where it hasn’t been so great.’
Hannah Clarke had reached out to police and domestic violence services in the months prior to her deaths after becoming fearful of her ex-husband Rowan Baxter
The Brisbane worker said it took a total of six weeks for the support service to process Ms Clarke’s risk assessment because their system was overwhelmed by victims needing help.
‘So in that situation I believe I had completed the risk and safety assessment (RASA) with Hannah and it was pending allocation to a case manager,’ she said.
‘Hannah had reached out with some concerns with the respondent using technology abuse and I was able to provide that bit of case management before she was allocated her actual case manager.
‘We get a range of high-risk situations, we might get a call where someone has been strangled that day and the RASA needs to be completed so unfortunately I think it was a situation where we didn’t have the manpower to complete it in that week when I initially wanted to complete it. ‘
The worker also revealed she had received minimal training when taking over the role from the last worker and received no training on how to share information with police or signs that indicate a lethal relationship.
A second DV support worker said she had assessed Ms Clarke as not being at ‘imminent risk’ despite Baxter’s abduction of four-year-old Laianah on Boxing Day.
‘So my role in this particular instance was to follow up with Hannah to see if she required any wrap around support, ongoing support… whatever that might be,’ the worker said.
‘She did indicate that she would like to have support or be linked in with, I guess, a family law lawyer and counseling.
‘Just the fact that her estranged husband had taken, abducted, the middle child, which alerted us. I mean, that’s a huge red flag.
‘It’s not normal behavior… it’s just, who does that?’
She said the reason she assessed Ms Clarke as low-risk was because she was working with police.
‘If we assessed an aggrieved was at imminent risk in our absence if we were on annual leave we would hand it over to another case worker,’ she said.
Hannah Clarke had been assessed as not at ‘imminent risk’ by domestic violence support workers despite several physical incidents with her ex-husband and the abduction of her four-year-old daughter
‘I didn’t believe Hannah was at imminent risk because the police were involved, we were involved. I know she had left her estranged husband. I didn’t realize she was living with her parents but I did know her parents were there as a social support.
‘There was nothing glaring for me that I could assess her as being at imminent risk.’
A third DV support revealed Ms Clarke was full of hope just days before her death, finally feeling positive about her awful situation.
The worker said she had talked to Ms Clarke over the phone on January 29 and they met on February 4, prior to her death on February 19.
‘I can recall that she was upbeat, she was looking forward to sort of moving on with her life,’ she said.
‘She was very forward focused.’
The inquest also heard a psychologist had written a ‘glowing’ review of Baxter’s mental health just weeks before he murdered his family.
Psychologist Vivian Jarrett had seen Baxter for six sessions and agreed he was a high risk to others, despite writing a reference and police statement that Baxter was ‘leveled headed’ and ‘low risk’.
Psychologist Vivian Jarrett had seen Baxter for six sessions and agreed at the inquest he was a high risk to others, despite writing a reference and police statement that Baxter was ‘leveled’ and ‘low risk’ the same month he abducted his daughter.
Ms Jarrett held the six sessions with Baxter in December 2019, the same month he abducted little Laianah.
She claimed she knew Baxter was intentionally misleading her during their sessions in order to get a positive review, but made no notes of her concerns.
Ms Jarrett was reprimanded for changing her notes the day Baxter murdered the family and withholding paperwork from police with a search warrant.
Psychologist Vivian Jarrett wrote a ‘glowing review’ of Rowan Baxter’s mental health just weeks before he murdered his children and ex-wife
In her letter regarding Baxter she wrote: ‘Mr Baxter has been stressed over his wife leaving him suddenly but has been coping remarkably well given the situation.
‘He has been very open and sincere in our sessions. I have no regards concerning his mental health.
‘Contact with his children would be ideal and after reviewing his parenting strategies, all seems in order for him to regain contact.’
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Lifeline 13 11 14