Who was Hannah Clarke, and what was the cause of her death?
Hannah Clarke’s husband, Rowan Baxter, burned her and their three minor children to death.
Hannah Clarke and her three children, Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, were murdered by Rowan Baxter. He kidnapped the kids on February 19, 2020, and poured gasoline into his car, setting it ablaze on a suburban Brisbane street.
According to an inquest investigating the case, Baxter took Laianah after taking the kids skating at a park.
Brisbane doctor Julie-Ann Humphries testified at the inquest that when Baxter kidnapped the four-year-old on December 26, 2019, he appeared to be “on a mission.”
Ms. Clarke informed the police that while walking across the road with the other two children, Baxter requested her assistance and asked if he may keep the children for the night.
He abruptly rushed off with Laianah when she protested.
According to Senior Constable Kent, Hannah Clarke was concerned about her strained relationship with her husband, but she believed he was a good father who would never harm the children.
‘I remember not being greatly concerned at first and discussing saying not everything is domestic violence. Just because they’re not a very pleasant man doesn’t mean it’s necessarily domestic violence,’ she stated.
‘And then she disclosed that he makes her have sex every night, and then I went, “Okay, now we’ve got something.”‘ Senior Constable denied that she was not aware that Hannah was in a domestic violence relationship’ during their initial chat.
‘I think the way Hannah explained it at the time was she may not have enjoyed it and didn’t particularly want to do it every night but he wasn’t violent when they were having sex,’ she said. ‘Her level of fear was like, I have not seen such authentic fear from an aggrieved before,’ Senior Constable Kent said.
While his family was in their car, Baxter poured them with petrol and lit them on fire. As a result, he was burned over 80% of his body. He later died from self-inflicted knife wounds at the crime scene.
As part of his inquiry into the events leading up to the tragedy, Sergeant Harris found a message on Baxter’s phone.
‘When you read it, it is like someone who is not with it,’ he told the inquest on Friday.
The letter was released as a court exhibit last week.
An excerpt read: ‘Do you know how hard it is to go to bed every night without your children? I wish you had had just tried.
‘You destroyed my life and I cannot move on. I hope all this was worth it for you and your family.’
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