Queensland Police Commissioner Stands Down Cop Over Hannah Clarke Comments

February 20, 2020Australia
Queensland Police Commissioner Stands Down Cop Over Hannah Clarke Comments
A tow truck operator removes a car from the scene of a car fire which claimed the lives of a man and his three children in Brisbane, Feb. 19, 2020. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

A senior Queensland detective has been stood aside over comments he made about the deaths of Brisbane mum Hannah Clarke and her three children.

Detective Inspector Mark Thompson has been intensely criticised online over remarks her made during a press conference on Thursday.

He said police were keeping an open mind about whether the deaths of Clarke and her children were a case of a “husband being driven too far by issues” or a woman and children suffering extreme domestic violence.

It led to criticism online and Thompson being stood aside from the police probe.

“I have spoken to Detective Inspector Mark Thompson who was very upset about the situation” commissioner Katarina Carroll said on Friday.

“To ensure public confidence I have asked Detective Inspector Thompson to step aside from the investigation.”

Commissioner Carroll has apologised for what was said, adding that the phrasing was wrong and Thompson was gutted about the words he used.

Domestic violence campaigners including Red Rose Foundation’s Betty Taylor and Angela Lynch, the head of the Women’s Legal Service Queensland, have condemned the comments as victim blaming.

Clarke, 31, and her children, Laianah, 4, Aaliyah, 6, and Trey, 3, were killed when Rowan Baxter allegedly poured petrol on his family and set them alight at Camp Hill in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Baxter died on the footpath from self-inflicted wounds, police say.

“Our job as investigators is to keep a completely open mind,” Thompson told reporters in a 13-minute press conference.

He noted the outpouring of anger and grief on social media following the deaths and urged anyone with information about the family dynamic to come forward.

NTD Photo
Hannah Clark, 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)

“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?”

If you are in immediate danger, call emergency services. If you need help or advice, call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Lifeline 13 11 14

By Nicholas McElroy, Michael Doyle

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.