Those who knew Edward Livingstone said his behaviour set
off so many alarm bells it was a wonder no one saw the
fatal confrontation coming. Photo Stephen Jaquiery
Authorities missed many red flags before Bradley and
Ellen Livingstone were killed by their father in their Dunedin
The missed chances to stop Edward Livingstone, 51, from
harassing and threatening his family meant a protection order
against him was fatally compromised.
Livingstone shot and killed his children and then himself on
Wednesday night, eight months after he and their mother,
Katharine Webb, split. She had a court order to keep him away
from her and the children.
Despite that order, he called and emailed her. He wrote "your
beautiful (sic)" on her Facebook page. He followed her in his
The order did not restrain him, resulting in two court
appearances facing charges of breaching a protection order.
The court heard Livingstone was having a "traumatic" time
after the break up of his marriage, was having counselling
and was on medication.
The judge who sentenced him after the second breach was told
Ms Webb felt harassed and feared for the safety of her
children. She installed a panic button beside her bed because
she was terrified of Livingstone.
Friends say they contacted police to raise concerns over
threats he had made about killing his family. And
Livingstone's employer said it was obvious he was having a
hard time in his personal life.
Those who knew the family and that Livingstone's behaviour
was setting off so many warning bells have been left
wondering why no one saw that he was capable of the fatal
confrontation at his former home.
The protection order was issued on May 5. In August,
Livingstone breached it by contacting Ms Webb. It is
understood he emailed and phoned her.
He admitted the charge and as it was his first offence he was
granted police diversion.
On September 14, he rang Ms Webb's cellphone several times,
then rang her landline and left a message. He was charged a
second time with breaching the protection order and again
admitted the charge.
"That you phoned her and left a message is in direct
contravention of the terms of the protection order," Judge
Stephen Coyle told Livingstone at the sentencing hearing.
It was accepted that the content of the message was not
threatening - Livingstone had left a message apologising for
his previous behaviour.
But the contact had been frightening for Ms Webb.
"The victim impact statement indicates that she realised the
calls were from you and because of the frequency of the calls
on the cellphone, she became very anxious and fearful, and
she felt alone and unprotected," the judge said.
"She remains fearful that you will breach the protection
order and describes feeling constantly harassed and fearful
for her safety and that of the children.
"She states candidly that she cannot take much more of the
contact from you and the breaches of the protection order."
But Livingstone was granted a discharge without conviction.
Judge Coyle noted Livingstone had sought psychiatric help
after his first appearance.
"The effect of the separation on you has been traumatic and
has led to you having some issues which have required
medication," he said.
"Following this second incident, you have again approached
(your doctor) and the letter from him indicates that he has
changed the medication you are receiving and that you are now
"It is clear, therefore, that at the time of the
circumstances leading to this offending, while you were
receiving treatment for your mental health issues, the
medication you were receiving was not quite levelling you out
to the point where you were able to totally control and
manage your behaviour, and things again got on top of you and
you reacted spontaneously and in contravention of the order."
Police opposed the discharge, but Judge Coyle said a
conviction could cost Livingstone his job which would
outweigh the gravity of the offending.
It now emerges that Livingstone, while apparently contrite
and remorseful in court, had sinister and violent plans for
He told friends in August, three months after the protection
order was granted, of his plan to murder his children and
then take his own life.
"He told me in August what he wanted to do," a source said.
"He made his mind up months ago. He told us what he wanted to
do was that he wanted to kill his family, leave them in their
bed, take an overdose of sleeping tablets, pour petrol around
the beds, and light it.
"He was consumed with revenge. The kids were Katharine's life
- they were the centre of her universe - and he knew killing
them was the worst thing he could do to her, and that's why
he did it."
Ms Webb had told neighbours that if they heard the panic
alarm sounding they should phone police immediately, "because
it was him doing something".
The source said that one night, Livingstone chased Ms Webb in
"She came off the St Leonards main road, saw his car parked
on the street, and as he saw her, he chased her all round St
Leonards in her car. She had the kids with her. She was
"She ended up turning her lights off - because it was dark -
and going up someone's driveway."
Ms Webb then phoned friends who contacted police.
The friends told the Weekend Herald that officers did not
follow up or interview them after the incident.
Since the murder-suicide, police have repeatedly refused to
answer questions about their involvement with the family.
They will not say how many times Ms Webb or others contacted
them with concerns or complaints about Livingstone, nor will
they say how they responded.
They have also refused to address the claim that they did not
follow up threats made by Livingstone.
"The circumstances leading up to the tragic events of
yesterday are subject to investigation on behalf of the
coroner," Inspector Greg Sparrow said in an emailed
"Based on the information available to us at this time police
[are] satisfied that all reports made to police regarding
this family were responded to appropriately. Police will not
be responding to unsubstantiated claims through the media.
Out of respect to the family at this tragic time we will not
be discussing specific details through the media."
The source said that on Wednesday night, Livingstone went to
the Kiwi St house he once shared with Ms Webb and the
He used a "secret key" that Ms Webb did not know about to let
himself into the house through a side door. He was carrying a
petrol can and a shotgun.
Ms Webb ran for help, screaming "he's got a gun" as she fled
to her neighbour and close friend Chris Foot's home.
"He had a gun and she was petrified. The kids were asleep and
there was no way she could've got them out alone. He would've
shot them there and then."
As she ran she heard the gunshots that killed her children as
"Protection orders are supposed to protect," said the source.
"And in this case, it didn't. That family has been so let
down by police and the system."
- Kurt Bayer, Anna Leask