It’s been revealed by a source that Rowan Baxter had rejected a shared custody offer and been in counselling in the weeks before the tragedy, according to the ABC.
While he didn’t entertain the custody offer, the arrangement would see him with the children three to four times a week.
The ABC has also confirmed Baxter sought the advice of a specialist family lawyer but did not proceed to the Family Court. He was contemplating an expensive bid for a more favourable custody arrangement he was “unlikely” to get.
Rowan Baxter killed Hannah Clarke, Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, when he doused them in petrol and set their car alight in a Brisbane street on Wednesday morning.
He died shortly after stabbing himself in the abdomen with a knife following the attack.
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Baxter rejected his lawyer’s advice during a mediation session with Clarke and refused to sign the order that would allow him 165 days of custody per year.
Instead, Baxter signed a non-legally binding agreement that gave him just as much access to the children as their mother.
However, he lost access to his children in early February when police charged him with breaching a domestic violence order (DVO).
“He got the children back but … he wanted 50-50, that was it. It was his way or nothing,” the source told the ABC.
“In my view, it wasn’t about the children at all, he just couldn’t move past the relationship with Hannah.”
Ms Clarke’s mother Suzanne told Channel 9’s A Current Affair on Friday night that her daughter first experienced psychological trauma and abuse from her estranged husband, which slowly turned physical, leaving her daughter in fear for her life.
Mrs Clarke was blunt in her assessment of Baxter: “He was evil”.
Mrs Clarke said her daughter was “scared to leave” but had been making small steps to move away in recent times.
She said her daughter only last week brought up the idea of organising a will.
The family claims Baxter stalked Ms Clarke through her mobile phone and knew where she was at all times.
“He could manipulate her,” said Mrs Clarke.
“The night before he killed them he was on the phone to the children crying and she hung up or the children hung up she said to me ‘Mum I feel so bad for him’.
“He was very good at playing the victim. We knew there was no way she could just say, ‘I’m going’ and walk out the door.”
“She said, ‘What happens to my babies if he kills me?’”
Ms Clarke’s brother Nathaniel said his sister had confided in him, saying it seemed Baxter couldn’t handle the success of his partner.
“He was a very jealous and spiteful person,” he said.
“He managed to drive a wedge between us … it was just all manipulated.”
The Clarke family say more needs to be done to ensure victims are better protected from their abusers, and are hoping to establish a support system for women suffering at the hands of domestic violence.
Following news of the shocking Brisbane attack, officials have reported a surge in the number of men seeking help to stop committing domestic violence in Queensland.
The shocking attack has seen more people turn to domestic violence services for help, Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Minister Di Farmer says.
“I’ve spoken with many people who work in the DFV sector and everyone has been absolutely devastated by the deaths of Hannah and her little babies,” Ms Farmer told AAP.
“But they’ve also said that in the past few days, they’ve seen an incredible surge in calls from people asking for help – and importantly, from people asking for help to stop being violent.”