A lawyer has opened up about the painful moment when she learned that her client and her three children had been brutally murdered by an abusive ex-husband.
Kelli Martin, a Queensland criminal defense and domestic violence lawyer, said the guilt was “overwhelming” when she learned about the tragedy of Hannah Clarke and her three children on February 19, 2020.
“I fell to the floor, sobbed and I screamed,” Ms. Martin said.
‘How did I not see this coming? How could I have done this differently? What have I not done well? How did I just lose someone?’
Kelli Martin (pictured) spoke out about the “overwhelming sadness” she felt after learning about her client’s brutal death
‘That was my first reaction, I think everyone blames themselves; what could I have done differently, how could I have saved people?’ she told the Courier Mail.
On the morning of February 19, Ms. Martin returned to her law firm, KLM Solicitors, after a board meeting, but was unaware of her client’s death until a colleague broke the news.
Hannah Clarke, 31, and her children, Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, had died that morning at the hands of Hannah’s ex-husband, Rowan Baxter.
Mr. Baxter had jumped in the car front passenger seat of Mrs. Clarke’s car as she prepared to take the kids to school from her parents’ Camp Hill home.
Her estranged husband was with a brand new jerry can full of petrol and a knife, and set the car on fire before committing suicide.
Ms Clarke (pictured center with her children Aaliyah and Laianah) contacted the family and domestic violence lawyer after her ex-husband Rowan Baxter kidnapped Laianah one day
Mrs. Clarke’s car was set on fire by her estranged husband with a jerry can of petrol in February 2020, killing her three children instantly (pictured, Mrs. Clarke’s burned-out car after the tragedy)
The mother-of-three had only contacted Ms. Martin two months earlier asking for help after Mr. Baxter took her middle child away.
“She was frantic, she had a child taken but was still very level-headed, she was always very level-headed and calm,” Ms Martin said.
“She wanted advice on the quickest way to get her back.”
“She was my client for maybe six or seven weeks, such a short period of time but a very intense time,” the lawyer added.
Hannah Clarke had contacted Ms Martin just two months prior to the tragedy (pictured, center with her children Aaliyah and Laianah)
“We texted or talked to each other almost every day.”
A funeral for Mrs Clarke and her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey was held just over a month after the tragedy on March 9, 2020 at Citi Point Church in Mansfield.
Mrs. Clarke was the first client to lose the family attorney during her 15 years as an attorney.
“You realize you can’t feel this way anymore and you need to do something about it,” she said.
The scene where Hannah Clarke and her children were murdered quickly became a shrine (pictured shows a woman, believed to be a friend of the victim, walking towards the scene of the incident)
“I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.”
In the years following the crime that rocked the country, Ms. Martin said her work has focused primarily on domestic violence.
“I now seem to be the best lawyer for cases with a high risk of domestic violence.”
The family and domestic violence attorney said she knows what her purpose is and what keeps her going in this confrontational industry.
“I can help save people,” she said.
‘If I don’t help people, I don’t contribute to a better world.
“That’s why I came here.”