Brisbane tragedy: Cop 'gutted' over comment

A senior Queensland detective is gutted at the phrasing he used in appealing for information into the deaths of a woman and her three children in Brisbane.

Detective Inspector Mark Thompson said police needed to keep an open mind as to whether the deaths of Hannah 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.

The comments have been condemned as victim blaming by domestic violence campaigners including Betty Taylor from the Red Rose Foundation and Angela Lynch, the head of the Women's Legal Service Queensland.

Ms 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," Det Insp Thompson told media in a 13 minute press conference on Thursday.

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.

"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?"

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll apologised on Friday for what was said.

She added the phrasing was wrong and Det Insp Thompson was gutted about the comments.

"He is distraught and he is gutted about the way he said it and what was said," Commissioner Carroll told the ABC.

"He is a man who has protected the Queensland community all his life and has worked endless hours, and when he looks back he cannot believe the way he has phrased that."


Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter