The brutal murder of a young mum and her three kids was so harrowing that Queensland’s first female police officer had to go and sit alone in her office, she has admitted.
Commissioner Katarina Carroll had been at the helm for seven months when the horrific deaths of Hannah Clarke and her children in Brisbane shocked the nation.
The violent tragedy rocked the state’s top cop to her core, she revealed in an interview to make her first year in the coveted role.
Former NRL player Rowan Baxter doused his estranged wife and their three children Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, in petrol and set their car alight in the leafy suburb of Camp Hill in February.
Commissioner Carroll vividly remembers the moment she received the first text about the incident, which she described as the ‘worst of the worst’.
Hannah Clarke (pictured, right, with her grandmother, left) and children Trey, Laianah and Aaliyah were doused in petrol and set alight by her estranged husband in February
‘I got the first message from my phone while I was in a meeting,’ she told the Courier Mail.
‘And I walked out and sat in my office over the river and thought to myself, “really, really? Could this actually be happening? Oh my god, could this really be happening in our community?”.
As Wednesday marked her first anniversary in the top job, she explained the tragedy is ‘by far the hardest case’ she had to deal with in her career.
She described her meetings with Ms Clarke’s family and the first police officers at the horrific scene in the days that followed as the hardest, most ‘heartwrenching and heartbreaking of the last 12 months’.
Commissioner Carroll has vowed to overhaul the system in the hope of stopping the domestic violence scourge so similar tragedies never happen again.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll (right) was seven months into her role at the time. She is pictured at Hannah Clarke’s funeral next to Hannah’s parents Lloyd and Suzanne
The Commissioner will never forget learning about the horrific deaths of Hannah Clarke and her three children Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, (pictured)
She added society needs to learn from the deaths of Hannah Clarke, Alison Baden-Clay and other women who have fallen victim to domestic violence.
‘It is tragic,’ she added, saying domestic violence deaths should not be happening in a ‘contemporary and modern society’.
Other defining events for Commissioner Carroll include the recent Black Lives Matter protests and policing the state’s pandemic lockdown.
Restrictions will be eased on Friday when Queensland opens up its borders to New South Wales for the first time in three months.
Commissioner Carroll admitted the recent death of US citizen George Floyd at the hands of police that sparked the worldwide movement was avoidable.
She also understands why thousands of Australians have since taken to the streets to voice their anger.
Rowan Baxter (pictured, left) doused his estranged wife and their three children Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, in petrol and set their car alight in a tragedy that shocked the nation
Commissioner Katarina Carroll described February’s tragedy as the ‘worst of the worst’ (pictured is the torched car being towed away)
She hopes to celebrate her first anniversary as commissioner with a post-work glass of wine on Wednesday night.
Commissioner Carroll joined Queensland Police in 1983 after studying criminal justice at Griffith University.
Women made up just four cent cent of the police force at the time.
But it didn’t stop Commissioner Carroll from working her way up the ranks to detective in high-profile units such as the drug squad, criminal investigation unit and organised crime taskforce.
She led Queensland’s security efforts at the 2014 Brisbane G20 summit and began her four year stint Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner the following year before she took over from retiring Police Commissioner Ian Stewart last July.
She is Queensland’s 20th Police Commissioner and the first woman in the top job in the service’s 159-year history.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll (pictured) has looked back on her first year in the job