Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said that his country were shocked, saddened and devastated by the deaths of five people including three children after a car fire in an apparent domestic violence incident.
Hannah Baxter, 31, and her children Aaliyah, 6, Lainah, 4, and Trey, 3, died after their car was set alight on a street in suburban Brisbane on Wednesday morning. Baxter’s estranged husband and the children’s father, Rowan Baxter, allegedly doused his family with gas before setting the car alight.
The 42-year-old, a former player with the New Zealand Warriors in Australia’s National Rugby League football competition, was found dead near the scene, reportedly after stabbing himself.
Australians all over the country are just shocked, saddened and devastated about what has happened in a suburban street where Hannah and her three children were so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of violence, Morrison told media.
The children – Laianah, four, Aaliyah, six, and Trey, three – died in the car after it burst into flames on a quiet suburban street in leafy Camp Hill, in Brisbane’s east, on Wednesday morning during their regular school run.
On Wednesday members of Hannah Baxter’s family set up a fundraising page for funeral costs and to support her parents, who, they said, had “exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster”.
Police believe the estranged husband and father doused the car in petrol with his wife and children inside, before reportedly stabbing himself. He died at the scene.
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, police confirmed Rowan Baxter was declared dead at the scene after responding emergency crews attempted to revive him.
“Preliminary investigations indicate the woman was driving the car and the man was in the front passenger seat prior to the incident,” police said in a statement.
Angela Lynch, CEO of the Women’s Legal Service in Queensland state, of which Brisbane is the capital, called for an overhaul of Australia’s family court system.
Earlier in the day, at least four people on board were killed after two small planes collided that scattered debris across grassland in southeastern Australia.
(With inputs from agency)