Brisbane Family’s Death Was Murder: Police

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
February 20, 2020 Updated: February 20, 2020

The Brisbane mother killed when her estranged partner set fire to her car didn’t believe she had been a victim of domestic violence because he didn’t hit her.

A Brisbane mother and her three children who died when her estranged husband set fire to her car were murdered, police say.

Two days after the tragedy, Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll confirmed police are treating their deaths as murder.

“This is a shocking tragedy which has affected the whole community,” Carroll said.

“Our thoughts are particularly with the family and loved ones.”

The death shortly after of their killer, Rowan Baxter, is not being treated as suspicious.

Hannah did not believe she was the victim of domestic violence, a friend says, despite a domestic violence order in place against her estranged husband.

The couple had been separated for months after Hannah left the family home and took daughters Aaliyah, 6, and Laianah, 4, and son Trey, 3, to her parent’s house in nearby Camp Hill.

“I work in domestic violence … so when she first confided in me we spoke about the violence and for such a long time she didn’t believe she was in a domestic violence relationship,” friend Manja Whaley told Nine’s Today show.

“It hadn’t crossed her mind, because as she said to me, her words, ‘he didn’t hit me.’

“I then started unpacking with her the emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and she had experienced all of those.”

Rowan Baxter Rugby Player NO ARCHIVING
Hannah, Rowan Baxter and their three children Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey—the family were involved in a fatal vehicle fire at Camp Hill in Brisbane. Image obtained on Feb. 19, 2020. (AAP Image/Facebook)

Hannah, 31, died in hospital on Wednesday night.

While setting out on the school run, Baxter approached their SUV and sat in the passenger seat.

Exactly what happened next is still being investigated, but a witness reported Hannah jumped out of the car on fire in Raven Street, exclaiming “he’s poured petrol on me.”

The children, who were strapped into the back seat, perished in the flames.

Baxter is believed to have died from wounds self-inflicted with a knife.

Mourners continue to visit the street where the children died to lay floral tributes and pay their respects.

A Facebook fundraising page set up by Hannah’s sister-in-law Stacey Roberts has so far raised more than $143,000.

Queensland Police revealed the former couple had previously been referred to support services, and police had received reports of domestic violence within the family over several months.

A Brisbane court granted at least one domestic violence order against Baxter.

“There was the checking of her accounts on Facebook, the accusations of her cheating … she would get dressed and she would be picking up her clothes and he would say things to her ‘like look at your stomach, that’s just disgusting,'” Whaley said.

According to Whaley, who said she has worked in the domestic violence sector for 10 years, Hannah left Baxter on Dec. 5.

“My hope is that people are more aware of domestic violence … just because you haven’t been beaten doesn’t mean that there is no domestic violence,” she said.

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By Robyn Wuth

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.