A father who brutally murdered his children has had his violent 18-year history with police detailed in a family colonial inquest.
John Edwards, 67, killed Jack and Jennifer Edwards in Pennant Hills, Sydney’s north-west, in July 2018 after following his daughter home from school.
Edwards then killed himself at his rented home near Normanhurst on the night of the murders. Five months later, the children’s mother, Olga, took her own life.
The inquest heard Edwards, then 50, met Olga online before travelling to Russia to meet her. She was just 19-years-old at the time.
He then brought the teenager back to Australia and married her, where nearly two decades of abuse began.
John Edwards shot dead his daughter Jennifer (left), 13, and son Jack (right), 15, in West Pennant Hills in Sydney’s north-west on July 5, 2018
The inquest into the deaths of the teenagers and the killer’s suicide has examined how a family court, on an interim basis, ordered the teens see their father despite his long, documented history of domestic violence.
Edwards, a father of 10, had recently had an AVO taken against him to protect a former partner, while there had been several other allegations of abuse from other former partners.
In 2010 the NSW Firearms Registry rejected an application from Edwards to purchase a handgun after he falsely claimed he hadn’t been the subject of an AVO in the proceeding decade.
The inquest into the deaths of the teenagers and the killer’s suicide has examined how a family court, on an interim basis, ordered the teens see their father despite his long, documented history of domestic violence. Pictured: John Edwards
From 2014 to 2016 Olga claims Edwards was abusive to their son Jack, who was between 12 and 14 during the period.
In March, 2016 Olga took her children and began Family Court proceedings against Edwards, who told police he fears his wife may make ‘false allegations’ against him.
Later that year, Edwards would apply again for a gun, this time a gun training permit with Ku-Ring-Gai Pistol Club.
Olga reported Edwards’ abuse of their two children to local police in December 2016.
At the beginning of 2017 Edwards attends Olga’s yoga class. The studio then finds out he had attended the premises roughly 15 times before.
Despite that, police file an error-filled report and no action is taken.
Edwards is granted a rifle and pistol license in June 2017, and buys three rifles over the proceeding three months. He also buys a revolver and semi-automatic pistol.
On July 2, 2018 Edwards hires a car from Avis Car Rentals in Hornsby on Sydney’s upper North Shore.
Three days later, on July 5, he drives to Pennant Hills train station where he follows his daughter home and shoots both his children dead. Edwards killed himself shortly after.
Olga, stricken with grief, takes her own life some five months after the brutal murder.
The lawyer tasked with protecting the chilren failed to tell the courts about their father’s 18-year police history of domestic violence before he fatally shot them, the inquest heard.
Independent children’s lawyer Debbie Morton on Thursday repeatedly denied misleading a Family Court when advocating for Edwards despite his children telling several people he was violent.
Ms Morton subpoenaed Edwards’ police record while representing the children during their parent’s 2016-2017 custody dispute, Sydney Morning Herald reported.
In previous evidence, Ms Morton said she read over the record which detailed Edwards’ history of domestic abuse, including restraining orders and allegations of stalking.
Ms Morton did not advise the Family Court that the teenagers – who told a psychologist they feared their father – wanted no contact with the financial planner.
When addressing allegations of family violence, the woman duty-bound to represent the children’s best interests told the Family Court: ‘There’s a concern about the dad being a bit overbearing.’
‘All the evidence pointed to the exact opposite – that he was a significant risk to these children,’ counsel assisting Kate Richardson SC said.
Five months after the murders, the children’s mother, Olga (pictured), took her own life
‘No,’ Ms Morton replied.
The lawyer, who twice denied lying in her evidence to the Coroners Court, said she was aware of her obligations at the time.
During the intense questioning, Ms Morton hit back at Ms Richardson, saying she didn’t think the barrister knew how the Family Court worked.
‘You seem to think the independent children’s lawyer has an enormous amount of power,’ she said.
Ms Richardson replied her questions were based on ICL’s duties as outlined by the court itself.
The inquest has heard Olga detailed in 2017 how Edwards had chased Jack through Paris on a family holiday – throwing the boy up against a wall so violently passers-by intervened.
Ms Morton characterised the incident to the Family Court as ‘Jack ran away, John was chasing after him and different things like that’.
‘You downplayed the Paris incident to His Honour, do you agree?’ Ms Richardson asked.
‘I don’t think so,’ came the reply.
A CHILD MURDERER’S ESCALATING BEHAVIOUR BEFORE MURDERS
2000 – John Edwards connects with teenager Olga online. By the time he travels to Russia to meet her, a three-year AVO has just been put in place to protect one of his former partners and several other former partners have made allegations of abuse.
2001 – Olga, then 19, moves to Australia to marry Edwards, then 50. She soon has two children to Edwards: Jack (b. 2002) and Jennifer (b. 2004)
2010 – NSW Firearms Registry rejects Edwards’ gun licence application after he falsely declares he hasn’t been the subject of an AVO in the preceding decade.
2014 to 2016 – After years of controlling behaviour against Olga, Edwards begins turning attention to Jack. Olga later reports multiple occasions of Edwards physically hitting the boy
March 2016 – Olga and the kids leave Edwards and Family Court proceedings begin. Edwards tells Hornsby police Olga may make “false allegations” against him.
December 2016 – Edwards applies for a gun training permit with Ku-ring-gai Pistol Club.
December 2016 – Olga reports Edwards’ abuse of Jack and Jennifer to local police.
February 2017 – Edwards attends Olga’s 6am yoga class. Yoga studio learns he’s been to the premises about 15 times. Police file error-riddled report and take no further action.
June 2017 – Edwards granted rifle licence. Pistol licence granted soon after.
October 2017 – The financial planner buys his third rifle in as many months.
April 2018 – He purchases a semi-automatic pistol to go with a revolver he bought in March.
July 2, 2018 – Edwards hires from Avis Car Rentals in Hornsby.
July 4, 2018 – Edwards collects his pistols from St Marys Pistol Club, closing the door to his gun locker so hard it jammed and needed repairs.
July 5, 2018 – The 67-year-old drives hire car to Pennant Hills train station, follows his daughter home and shoots his children dead. Takes his own life shortly afterwards.
December 2018 – Olga takes her own life
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