A controversial men’s rights activist has praised Queensland police for suggesting a controlling father may have been ‘driven too far’ before he torched his wife and three children to death.
Hannah Clarke and her three children were set alight in their car on Wednesday morning by Rowan Baxter who stabbed himself to death at the scene in Camp Hill, Brisbane.
Just one day after the horrific deaths, Queensland Detective Inspector Mark Thompson said police needed to keep an ‘open mind’ as to whether the murder was a case of ‘husband being driven too far by issues’ or a woman and children suffering extreme domestic violence.
He has since been stood down from the case.
Hannah Clarke and her three children were torched in their car on Wednesday morning by former Rowan Baxter (all pictured together) who stabbed himself to death at the scene in Camp Hill, Brisbane
Social commentator Bettina Arndt (pictured) has praised police for suggesting Baxter may have been ‘driven too far’
On Friday morning, , Bettina Arndt congratulated the police for their comments.
‘Congratulations to the Queensland police for keeping an open mind and awaiting proper evidence, including the possibility that Rowan Baxter might have been ‘driven too far.’ But note the misplaced outrage. How dare police deviate from the feminist script of seeking excuses…’ she tweeted.
The social commentator was met with a barrage of criticism online.
‘He incinerated his children alive. How can you possibly excuse that by being ‘driven too far’. I cannot think of a more inhuman act than incinerating someone alive. Do you not have any humanity?’ ABC election analyst Antony Green commented.
‘There is something terribly wrong with you Please seek some help (but do check their credentials are real)’ another wrote.
‘There is simply no excuse for pouring petrol on people and setting them on fire. No justification. No rationalisation. Marriages end. It happens all the time. But whether male or female, murdering your partner and children is simply unjustifiable murder,’ a third tweeted.
Ms Arndt congratulated Queensland police for keeping an ‘open mind’ about the deaths of the family
Ms Arndt’s comments were bombarded with criticism online on Friday morning
Inspector Thompson was forced to apologise for his comments after they were condemned as victim blaming by domestic violence campaigners.
‘Our job as investigators is to keep a completely open mind,’ Inspector Thompson said in a press conference on Thursday.
Detective Mark Thompson (pictured) has been stood down from the murder-suicide after making controversial comments in a press conference
‘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?’
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll apologised on Friday for what was said.
She added the phrasing was wrong and Detective Inspector Thompson was ‘gutted’ about the comments.
‘He is distraught and he is gutted about the way he said it and what was said,’ Commissioner Carroll told the ABC.
What to do if you’re at risk of domestic violence
There are a number of services across Australia you can contact for help.
- The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line: 1800 737 732, available 24/7
- Call 000 if you’re in immediate danger
- Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
- Lifeline: 13 11 11
‘He is a man who has protected the Queensland community all his life and has worked endless hours, and when he looks back he cannot believe the way he has phrased that.’
It comes after it was revealed that Ms Clarke had suffered at the hands of her ‘monster’ partner for ten years.
Ms Clarke’s friend, Manja Whaley, revealed the mother-of-three was financially, emotionally and sexually abused by Baxter.
Speaking on the Today show, Ms Whaley also told how Baxter once admitted threatening to kill his oldest child from a previous relationship in comments which spooked Ms Clarke.
He also threatened to harm their children if she refused to have sex with him and wouldn’t let her wear shorts to the gym in case she attracted other men.
‘I then started unpacking with her the emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and she had experienced all of those,’ Ms Whaley said.
Hannah Clarke is seen at the beach with her two daughters before they were brutally killed
‘And some of the things that she would explain was this excessive control of Rowan, the sexual abuse daily, and if she didn’t have sex with him, he would punish not only her but also the children.
‘She wouldn’t be allowed to go to the gym which was not only her passion but her outlet.
‘There was the checking of her accounts on Facebook, the accusations of her cheating, if she was having messages with males, even males he knew through the gym, he would accuse her of being flirtatious.’
Queensland Police have revealed Ms Clarke and Mr Baxter had been previously referred to support services, and police had received reports of domestic violence within the family over several months.
Baxter’s New Years’ Day post: The killer brought in the new year with this post of his children in the shallows. ‘Goodnight ratbags always in my heart,’ it was captioned
BRISBANE MURDER-SUICIDE: HOW COWARDLY RAMPAGE UNFOLDED
Queensland Police officers are called to a family violence incident that allegedly involved the couple.
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 19 – EARLY MORNING:
Ex-NRL star Rowan Charles Baxter, 42, is spotted filling a jerry can with fuel at a local service station.
Baxter dives into his estranged wife Hannah Clarke’s white Kia Sportage as she was preparing to do the school drop off on Raven Street, Camp Hill, a wealthy suburb of Brisbane.
He douses Ms Clarke, 31, and their three children – Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three – in petrol and sets the car alight.
Neighbours hear an explosion which sounded like a ‘gas bottle’ blast. At least four explosions followed.
Baxter grabs a knife from the SUV and stabs himself in the chest.
He tries to stop neighbours from saving his wife and children before dying in the street.
Ms Clarke escapes the burning car and screams: ‘He’s poured petrol on me.’
Horrified witnesses see her skin peeling off her body.
One heroic neighbour hoses her down in an attempt to save her life and suffers burns himself.
She is rushed to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in a critical condition.
Ms Clarke dies in hospital from the horrendous burns she suffered in the quadruple murder suicide.