Hannah Clarke’s parents have revealed the early warning signs her ‘monster’ husband displayed before the mum-of-three was doused with petrol and burnt alive in a killing that shocked Australia.
Suzanne and Lloyd Clarke decided to lift the lid on the ‘red flags’ they saw as they issued a grim warning about how domestic violence can happen to anyone – no matter your class or your postcode.
The grieving parents lost their daughter and three of their grandchildren almost six months ago when Hannah’s estranged husband Rowan Charles Baxter ambushed the family on their morning school run in Brisbane.
Baxter doused their car in petrol and set them on fire. Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, perished at the scene.
Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke embrace at a vigil for their daughter Hannah and her three children
Hannah’s estranged husband Rowan Charles Baxter ambushed the family on their morning school run in Brisbane and doused their car in petrol. Hannah is pictured with her grandmother and children Trey, three, Laianah, four, and Aaliyah, six
Hannah, 31, jumped from the driver’s seat of her car screaming ‘he’s poured petrol on me’. She later died in hospital with burns to 97 per cent of her body.
The Clarke’s spoke in detail with the Q Weekend as a warning to other victims, in the hope that no one else has to suffer in the same way Hannah did.
Suzanne (right) said the ‘red flags’ in Hannah’s husband had been ‘gradual’ and started with ‘little things’
Suzanne said the ‘red flags’ in Hannah’s husband had been ‘gradual’ and started with ‘little things’.
‘He took over Hannah’s Facebook, they had to have a joint Facebook account. She wasn’t allowed to shorts, she couldn’t walk off the beach in bikinis,’ Suzanne said in a video shared on The Courier-Mail.
The grandmother didn’t think too much of it at first. She thought a shared Facebook would make sense as the couple posted the same pictures and in terms of the bikinis, she simply thought Baxter was a bit of a ‘prude’.
At this time, Baxter was a ‘nice’ addition to the family, who they got on well with. He would share a beer on a Friday afternoon with Lloyd and the family would enjoy Thai takeaway over a weekend.
But Suzanne said Baxter’s behaviour gradually became more obsessive and possessive.
‘He would go through her phone, he would check phone calls. Certain clothes she couldn’t wear. He tried to control everything,’ she said.
Hannah Clarke is pictured with her two daughters Aaliyah, six, and Laianah, four
Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke are pictured with two of their grandchildren. The grieving parents are speaking out as a reminder that domestic violence can happen in any postcode and any class
Lloyd, who is pictured enjoying some time in the water with his grandson Trey, said the family tried to speak with Baxter about his increasingly controlling behaviour but to no avail
The Clarke’s believe that anyone who begins to notice red flags should speak up and seek professional help through domestic violence services.
Lloyd said the family tried to speak with Baxter about his increasingly controlling behaviour but to no avail.
‘We had a few mini-interventions. We went over there, we tried to talk to him about it. ”You need help, you need to see someone” but that sort of fell on the wayside a bit and seemed to make him angrier,’ Lloyd said.
Before Hannah was murdered by Baxter, the 31-year-old and her three children had moved back in with her parents.
The heartbroken parents described their daughter a strong and committed mother whose smile would always light up a room .
Lloyd said Hannah always put other people first. He said very few knew about her struggles at home because she would always put on a brave face.
A police crime scene is established around the burnt car in Brisbane in February
Suzanne, who is pictured with Hannah’s daughter’s Aaliyah and Laianah, said Baxter’s behaviour gradually became more obsessive and possessive
Pictured: Flowers and a ‘stop domestic violence’ sign are laid at the scene in Brisbane
In one final courageous gesture, Hannah used her last moments alive to give police a detailed account about Baxter and his horrific abuse.
Despite suffering burns to most of her body, Hannah walked herself to a stretcher, while recounting the shocking events that had transpired.
She passed out on her way to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital but awoke in ICU, where she told the story of Baxter’s attack again.
Lloyd said his daughter wanted the ‘monster’ to be caught for the murders and likely didn’t know he had died.
Hannah and the kids were killed on February 19 when Baxter hid in the front garden of her parent’s place in Camp Hill, where she and the kids were living, and ambushed them as she drove the children to school and daycare.
The children died in the car while Hannah managed to free herself but died later in hospital. Baxter died at the scene from self-inflicted knife wounds.
The attack that killed Hannah and her family has sparked calls for greater efforts to bring an end to domestic violence.
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