A senior Queensland detective is “gutted” at the phrasing he used to describe the deaths of a woman and her three children in Brisbane.
A senior Queensland detective has been stood aside from the investigation into the murders of a Brisbane mother and her three children over comments he made about domestic violence within the family.
Detective Inspector Mark Thompson said police needed to keep an "open mind" as to whether the deaths of Hannah Clarke – also known as Hannah Baxter - and her children were a case of a "husband being driven too far by issues" or a woman and children suffering extreme domestic violence.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll apologised today for Det. Insp. Thompson's remarks and said she had asked for the respected detective to stand aside.
"I apologise from the QPS to the victims, or anyone that may have been offended and hurt by this," Commissioner Carroll told reporters this afternoon.
"I phoned the officer this morning and, as you can appreciate, he is distraught and gutted because of the way he explained it.
"As I was suggesting and asking him that he needed to step aside, he actually volunteered and said for the integrity and the confidence of not only this investigation but us in policing, he needed to.
"And I totally agreed with that."
Commissioner Carroll said Det. Insp. Thompson was a highly respected officer but "the phrasing should have been better".
"For anyone that might know Inspector Mark Thompson, he is an extraordinarily committed, experienced and brilliant investigator," she said.
"And he, like the rest of us, believes that domestic violence is nothing but a scourge on society.
"We attend some 100,000 occurrences a year and the Queensland Police Service is so committed to particularly looking after victims, families and children that are affected by domestic violence."
Ms Clarke, 31, and her children, Laianah, 4, Aaliyah, 6, and Trey, 3, were killed when Rowan Baxter allegedly poured petrol on his family and set them alight at Camp Hill in Brisbane on Wednesday.
Baxter died on the footpath from self-inflicted wounds.
"Our job as investigators is to keep a completely open mind," Det. Insp. Thompson told media in a 13-minute press conference yesterday.
He noted the outpouring of anger and grief on social media following the deaths and urged anyone with information about the family dynamic to come forward.
"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 to take, so to speak, in this investigation," he said.
"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 this 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 comments have been condemned as victim blaming online and by campaigners including Betty Taylor from the Red Rose Foundation and Angela Lynch, the head of the Women's Legal Service Queensland.
However, what didn't make it to social media was Det. Insp. Thompson's response when asked by reporters if he thought Rowan Baxter had been "driven too far".
"Absolutely not. I am not leaning towards that at all."
Commissioner Carroll said she understood the outrage over the detective's comments and would meet with Ms Clarke's family to apologise.
"If you see it in isolation of what was fully said, definitely," she said.
"I listened to just that part and I thought to myself, 'Wow. You know, this is really hurtful to anyone that would be affected by this, by domestic and family violence - something that we are trying to get rid of in our society, and work so hard to support, particularly victims.'"
Police have confirmed they had received reports of domestic violence within the family over several months before the attack.
A court had also granted at least one domestic violence order relating to the couple.
"I think there's many hurdles (to tackling domestic violence)," Commissioner Carroll said.
"It's emotive, it's complex.
"In every domestic violence case, they're very different.
"So, we will have five in a shift and they'll be completely different.
"Some relate to alcohol issues, drug issues, controlling behaviours, psychological control, you name it, it is extraordinarily complex."
A close friend of Ms Clarke said the Brisbane mother had endured threats, manipulation and sexual abuse from her husband in the months before the murders.
Manja Whaley told Today that Baxter used emotionally abusive and controlling tactics, kept a watch on her social media and regularly threatened to punish her and her children.
"For such a long time she didn't believe she was in a DV relationship. It hadn't crossed her mind, because as she said to me (in) her words, 'he didn't hit me'," Ms Whaley, who has worked in the domestic violence sector, said.
"I then started unpacking with her the emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and she had experienced all of those.
"And some of the things that she would explain was this excessive control of Rowan, the sexual abuse daily, and if she wasn't to have sex with him, he would punish not only her but also the children."
Reported with AAP.
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyond blue on 1300 22 4636.
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.
National Domestic Violence Service: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732). If you are in immediate danger call triple zero (000).
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/camp-hill-car-fire-detective-apologises-for-domestic-violence-comments/9e1e2223-2fad-4a06-8ec8-96d17cc62a08