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Edward Livingstone was a bad man, not a mad man.
The ultimate manipulator, he had prepared his vengeful plot for months.
A key to the flat the Department of Corrections employee once shared with co-worker Philip Mans went missing shortly after the pair moved into the house in June 2013.
Livingstone moved out in January 2014, days before he shot his children as they slept in their beds.
Mr Mans, a hunter, kept a gun cabinet in the house.
The missing key was later used by Livingstone to enter the house and take the Stoeger shotgun he used to kill his children.
Mr Mans did not speak of Livingstone as an insane man, but a manipulator who ''played'' him to gain access to his firearms.
During the inquest into the death of Livingstone and his children Bradley (9) and Ellen (6), Anne Stevens, counsel for the children's mother Katharine Webb, said the evidence painted a picture of Mr Livingstone as a duplicitous individual who was ''deliberately deceiving'' healthcare professionals.
Ms Webb told police after the shooting that Livingstone had told her of how his friend had spiked his drinks once, causing him to fail an exam. A year later, Livingstone got his revenge by doing the same thing to the friend.
''He said he bided his time,'' she said.
''And I think that's what he's done. I think he's worked out what he was going to do, waiting for my guard to go down and I think he's shot the kids.''
To many, Livingstone appeared to be a normal father, struggling to cope with the separation from his wife. But, to those who knew him, he was never a family man.
Ms Webb's sister, Genevieve Webb, told police Livingstone lacked ''social norms'' and ''struggled to be a father''.
''I recall one time we were doing a family video with the kids,'' she told police.
''At one point, I saw Edward and he was happy and I thought `Good on you'. It was rare to see Edward happy, so when I did see him this way it was a moment to remember.
''Edward spent little time with the kids and I suspect that he simply found it hard to interact with them.''
Livingstone was born in Christchurch and his parents separated when he was young.
His mother, Evelyn, left for England and had little to do with Livingstone or his sister, Suzanne, from that point.
He moved to Australia and was raised by his father, a reportedly violent man, from about the age of 7.
On one occasion, his father dragged him out of bed, broke his nose and his thumb and split his head open.
Livingstone's sister was also subjected to abuse.
Their father's friends sexually assaulted her when they were drinking.
Whatever caused his difficulties, Livingstone was withdrawn from his children and his mood changed after the birth of Bradley, Ms Webb said.
On the day of the shooting, Livingstone wrote a note: ''Why couldn't Kath just let me see & spend time with my children! That's all I wanted'', seemingly a last attempt to portray his actions in a more sympathetic light.
However, he revealed the true intent of his actions when he sent a text message later that day to Ms Webb's neighbour, Christopher Foot: ''Look after yourself, karma will get Kath''.
Livingstone's feelings towards his children had already been revealed, on the occasions he told people - including a complete stranger - that he contemplated killing Bradley and Ellen and their mother.
On January 15, 2014, Livingstone visited a service station and bought petrol for his car.
A seemingly innocuous purchase, but chillingly, he purchased an additional quantity in a red plastic petrol canister.
Later that night he took the shotgun and petrol canister to Ms Webb's St Leonards home with the intention of killing his children and himself, and burning the house down.
Livingstone entered Ms Webb's bedroom first, startling her and sending her fleeing from house.
He then shot the children, before becoming involved in a confrontation with Mr Foot.
He shot at him but missed and then turned the gun on himself.