John Edwards, 67, killed his children Jack, 15, and Jennifer, 13, before turning the gun on himself
A father who killed his children in a horrific murder suicide had chased, slapped and beaten them in public on a family holiday, an inquest has found.
John Edwards, 67, shot Jennifer, 13, and Jack, 15, in West Pennant Hills, north-western Sydney in July 2018 before turning the gun on himself.
While investigations continue to uncovered the financial planner’s domestic crimes, fresh findings emerged on Tuesday at an inquest into the teenager’s deaths, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The inquest heard that Edwards slapped Jennifer in the street while holidays in Paris.
He then chasing Jack down an alleyway and hitting him so aggressively that members of the public were forced to intervene.
Six months after the murder suicide, the children’s mother Olga took her own life.
Olga had tried to leave Edwards in March 2016 and took the matter up in the Family Court.
She described the violence inflicted upon her children in her affidavit, adding that Jack slept with a cricket bat in his room to defend himself and his sister against their father.
David Brown, who is a principal at the law firm where she worked as a solicitor, told the inquest Olga was ‘very, very bright’.
She shared details of her deteriorating marriage with her colleague and mentor, and express concerns that her violent husband was turning his behaviour towards their children.
Six months after the murder suicide, the children’s mother Olga (pictured) took her own life
When describing Edwards, Mr Brown said: ‘He was something of a bully … He was a man who burst into tempers and I think he drank a lot.’
Mr Brown said he believed Edwards was running a brokerage from the basement of their home with ‘a number of young women there’, who Olga was concerned about.
Assisting Christopher Mitchell asked what Mr Brown kind of bullying Olga spoke about, to which he replied: ‘I mean, how long have I got?’
He said that she wasn’t the sort of person to complain, but would speak up as the situation grew dire.
Olga had been sleeping in a separate room with the children following ‘serious physical abuse’ against Jack.
Mr Brown detailed one instance Olga told him about where Edwards and Jack had a confrontation that resulted in the father pushing his son to the ground and kicking him.
‘There were so many instances … where the father had altercations with his son because the son had shown no respect for his father, with good reason I should say,’ Mr Brown said.
Jack (left) slept with a cricket bat in his room to defend himself and his sister Jennifer (right) against their father
Despite Olga detailing the scope of Edwards’ violent behaviour towards his children, he was still allowed to see them as part of a limited contact order by the court.
In the affidavit, she said she had ‘a tremendous fear I would come home and find my child dead because John could never control his temper’.
Including the two he murdered, Edwards had 10 children to seven partners.
The NSW Coroners Court on Monday heard Edwards was awarded licences to shoot rifles and pistols in June 2017.
The licence was granted because NSW Firearms Registry staff used a police database report that failed to pick up several matters related to domestic violence.
Over the next year, he legally acquired five weapons including the Glock 17A 9mm semi-automatic pistol he used to shoot dead Jennifer and Jack in the boy’s bedroom.
Edwards hired a car and stalked his daughter on her way home from school to learn their new address before he followed or chased his daughter inside.
Neighbour Bruce Wilson heard five shots over about a minute and approached the home, knowing ‘someone is shooting the children’.
He eye-balled Edwards as the 68-year-old ‘half skipped’ down the home’s front stairs.
Edwards, 67, turned the gun on himself at a rented home near Normanhurst, northern Sydney (pictured)
‘I said “Is everything OK, what have you done?”,’ Mr Wilson told the inquest.
‘He didn’t say anything, he just walked towards me.
‘He was in no hurry, he didn’t rush at all. Everything was methodical and well-thought-out.’
The children were later found ‘crumpled together’ under Jack’s bedroom desk with multiple gunshot wounds, counsel assisting the coroner said in her opening address.
Edwards killed himself at his Normanhurst home the night of the murders.
The ‘unimaginable tragedy’ had affected many including family, friends and staff at the NSW Firearms Registry, which granted Edwards numerous permits in 2017 and 2018, Coroner Kate Richardson SC said.
One ex-partner said he was never physically violent but ‘controlling’ while another said he was ‘unbalanced and a narcissist’, the lead investigator told the inquest.
The police database report generated in June 2017 included stalking allegations by three former partners and a provisional apprehended violence order issued to protect one of his adult children.
But due to the way the algorithm was written, it missed four matters in the police database related to Edwards, Ms Richardson said.
Three had been recorded ‘domestic violence – no offence’ including an ex-partner’s allegation that Edwards had threatened to come to her home, harm her and take her young child; and Olga Edwards’ December 2016 report of three separate violent incidents by Edwards in 2015 against Jack and Jennifer.
The fourth report – of Olga being stalked at her yoga studio class after becoming Edwards’ seventh ex-partner – was mis-recorded by Hornsby police.
Jack, 15, and Jennifer Edwards, 13, were found ‘crumpled together’ under Jack’s desk after Edwards stormed the West Pennant Hills house (pictured)
That error meant it failed to even appear on Edwards’ police database profile, let alone the June 2017 report.
The inquest also heard the registry didn’t know Ku-Ring-Gai Pistol Club refused Edwards membership in early 2017.
Club officials formed the impression the ‘aggressive’ Edwards ‘was trying to railroad them’, Ms Richardson said.
He then lied in correspondence with registry staff about why he needed to change clubs.
Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan is expected to review NSW’s gun licensing process and whether more disclosure between gun clubs, the registry and applicants’ ex-partners should be mandated.
Adam Casselden, acting for the NSW Police Force at the inquest, said the registry had made a number of changes since July 2018 to ensure the ‘tragic circumstances are not repeated’.