Child murderer allowed access to guns despite domestic violence history, inquest hears


A NSW Firearms Registry employee admits she ignored 15 domestic violence-related entries about John Edwards on the police database while deciding whether he should have access to guns. Key points:John Edwards applied for a firearms licence 18 months before shooting his two childrenAn employee told the inquest that she did not look into 15 events linked to EdwardsThey included AVOs, stalking allegations and assault allegationsThe woman, who can’t be named for legal reasons, today told an inquest her role was “black and white”, but in hindsight, she would have read the entries about assaults, stalking and violence.The civilian registry clerk was helping assess whether Edwards should have a P650 permit for unlicensed shooting at approved ranges in January 2017.Eighteen months later, he shot dead his son Jack, 15, and daughter Jennifer, 13.How he came to access firearms despite a long history of domestic violence is a central issue at an inquest into the deaths. Jack and Jennifer Edwards were shot dead by their father in July 2018.(Supplied)Edwards’s application was escalated to the registry because he disclosed he had previously been refused a licence in 2010, due to being the subject of an AVO and lying about it.The registry employee’s role was to perform a name check in the police database in deciding whether the application should progress.An audit showed while searching Edwards’s profile she would have seen 18 separate incident entries, displayed in reverse-chronological order and given hyperlinked headlines that opened further data.”Fifteen out of the 18 events linked to that (profile) related to either AVOs, stalking allegations, assault allegations or adverse interactions in relationships,” Counsel Assisting Kate Richardson SC said.Family and domestic violence support services:The employee conceded many of the entries were “highly relevant” to the application, but she was focussed on finding information about an AVO and whether it was more than 10 years old.”What comes to your mind when you’re scrolling through those other events that are plainly relevant to the question of suitability for a person to have a gun?” Ms Richardson asked.”I don’t know what comes to mind. It was a long time ago,” the witness said.”In hindsight, I would look at it now. But I didn’t.”One of the first entries displayed detailed a December 2016 report from the teenagers’ mother, Olga Edwards, that they had been assaulted by John Edwards.Another entry revealed Ms Edwards had an argument with her estranged husband in March 2016 that was so serious police were called.The registry witness defended her role as “very black and white” and said she was not adjudicating on an actual firearms licence. Olga Edwards took her own life five months after her children were killed.(Supplied)One of her colleagues ultimately approved the P650 permit, but relied on the name check performed by the witness.The day before the shooting, Edwards drove to St Mary’s Pistol Club, where he was a member, and collected two guns — a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol and a magnum Smith and Wesson pistol, from his locker.He tracked Jennifer’s trip to her West Pennant Hills home and shot the pair inside before driving to his nearby house to turn the gun on himself.Five months later, Ms Edwards also took her own life.The inquest continues.

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