John Edwards, 68, killed his kids Jack, 15, and Jennifer, 13, before turning the gun on himself in July 2018
A financial planner ‘hit’ away from the scene after shooting his two children under a bedroom desk, an inquest has heard.
John Edwards, 68, shot his children Jennifer, 13, and Jack, 15, in July 2018 at their home in West Pennant Hills, northwest Sydney, before shooting himself.
A police investigation into the exposed Edwards tragedy had “a propensity for domestic violence,” including physical and psychological assaults against the women of his life and his many children, Coroner Kate Richardson SC said.
Including the two he killed, Edwards had ten children from seven partners.
The NSW Coroners Court heard on Monday that John Edwards had been licensed to shoot rifles and pistols in June 2017 after NSW Firearms Registry staff used a police database report that failed to address several cases related to domestic violence.
The following year, he legally acquired five weapons, including the Glock 17A 9mm semi-automatic pistol with which he shot Jennifer and Jack in the boy’s bedroom.
Edwards rented a car and chased his daughter on the way home from school to hear their new address before following or chasing his daughter in.
Jack (photo left) and Jennifer’s (photo right) body were found under his bedroom desk with multiple gunshot wounds
Neighbor Bruce Wilson heard five shots in about a minute and walked over to the house, knowing ‘someone is shooting the kids’.
He looked at Edwards as the 68-year-old “half-skipped” down the front steps of the house.
‘I said,’ Is everything okay, what have you done? ‘ Wilson told the inquest.
He didn’t say anything, he just walked over to me.
He was not in a hurry, he was not in a hurry at all. Everything was methodical and well thought out. ‘
The children were later found “compressed” under the desk in Jack’s bedroom with multiple gunshot wounds, a counselor who assisted the coroner in her opening address said.
Edwards committed suicide at his home in Normanhurst on the night of the murders.
Their devastated mother Olga committed suicide six months after the tragic murder
The “ unimaginable tragedy ” had affected many, including family, friends and staff from the NSW Firearms Registry, which granted Edwards numerous permits in 2017 and 2018, Ms. Richardson said.
“But above all, they devastated their mother Olga Edwards, who unfortunately took her life six months later.”
One ex-partner said he was never physically violent but “ controlling, ” while another said he was “ off-balance and a narcissist, ” the lead investigator told the inquest.
Edwards, 67, pointed the gun at himself in his home in nearby Normanhurst (pictured)
The police database report generated in June 2017 included allegations of stalking by three former partners and a preliminary warrant of continued violence issued to protect one of his adult children.
But because of the way the algorithm was written, it missed four things in the police database related to Edwards, Ms. Richardson said.
Three of them were recorded as “domestic violence – no offense,” including an ex-partner’s allegation that Edwards had threatened to come to her home, harm her, and take in her young child; and Olga Edwards’ December 2016 report of three separate violent incidents by Edwards in 2015 against Jack and Jennifer.
Jack, 15, and Jennifer Edwards, 13, were found ‘crumpled together’ under Jack’s desk after Edwards stormed the West Pennant Hills home (pictured)
The fourth report – of Olga being stalked in her yoga studio after becoming Edwards’ seventh ex-partner – was misrecorded by Hornsby police.
That error meant it didn’t even show up on Edwards’ police database profile, let alone the June 2017 report.
The inquest also learned that the registry was unaware that Ku-Ring-Gai Pistol Club refused Edwards membership in early 2017.
Club officials got the impression that the “aggressive” Edwards “was trying to transport them,” said Ms. Richardson.
He then lied in correspondence with the registry staff about why he had to change clubs.
Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan is expected to review NSW’s licensing process and whether more disclosure should be required between gun clubs, the registry and the applicants’ ex-partners.
Adam Casselden, who acted on behalf of the NSW police force in the investigation, said the registry had made a number of changes since July 2018 to ensure that the “ tragic circumstances do not repeat. ”