Hannah Clarke’s parents have opened up about the emotional toll of sitting through an inquest and hearing the horrific details of her murder.
Ms Clarke and her three children Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, were murdered by her abusive ex-husband Rowan Baxter, 42, on February 19, 2020.
She was on a school run in Camp Hill, south Brisbane, when Baxter jumped into her car, doused the family in petrol, and set the vehicle alight.
Lloyd and Sue Clarke said there were ‘a few tears’ behind closed doors, especially after watching footage of Hannah pleading with police for help after Laianah was taken on Boxing Day in 2019.
Hannah Clarke with her three children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey (pictured)
‘It was hard to watch Hannah so upset. But it was also nice to hear her voice,’ Ms Clarke told Alison Langdon in an interview on the Today show.
‘It was, yeah.’ Mr Clarke agreed.
‘Especially when she finally calmed down. When she was distressed, it was like: “That’s my little girl, I want to help her”,’ he said.
Langon commended the couple for their strength, noting a clip played at the inquest showing her ex-husband calmly walking through Bunnings and buying a jerry can and cable ties would have been difficult to see.
‘At least people got to understand just how callous he was. How premeditated it was,’ she said.
The couple said the inquest was a difficult time for them, but that they ‘had no choice’ but to get through it.
‘We’ve got each other, so that’s our strength,’ Ms Clarke said.
‘We’ve got our boys. You know we have lost half our family but we still have the other half and we’ve got to be strong for them and for each other.’
Hannah’s parents Lloyd and Sue Clarke spoke on Thursday (pictured) following an inquest and said more should be done to fight domestic violence
Langdon asked the couple whether it ‘sat right’ with them that he was just evil and nothing could have been done to save Hannah and her kids.
‘I think there should be something that can be done,’ Ms Clarke said.
‘It showed that the system is definitely broken. It shows we need a lot more education out there,’ Mr Clarke added.
Mr Clarke said though he was ‘charming at first’ there were indications throughout their relationship that he was controlling.
‘He made her shut her Facebook down… she couldn’t walk off the beach in bikinis or wear shorts to the gym… towards the end he even had the house and the car bugged,’ he said.
Ms Clarke even said that a week before her death Hannah spoke to her saying she wanted them to have the kids if something happened to her.
‘I didn’t want her to think he would do that. But she knew. She had a feeling,’ she said.
‘I have always always struggled with that question; Who would do that to their kids?’ Mr Clarke added.
Ms Langdon (pictured) commended the couple on their strength particularly throughout the inquest
The Clarkes want more to be done to battle domestic violence and vowed to try and help other women in honour of Hannah.
‘With Queensland bringing in coercive control laws that’s a step in the right direction, but we are so underfunded there,’ Mr Clarke said.
‘About 40 per cent of crimes are domestic violence in Queensland, that’s terrible.’
Ms Clarke added: ‘Hannah met a constable who helped her considerably but unfortunately it’s fifty-fifty whether you get a police who will understand what’s going on.
‘This is no criticism of the police officers, they work incredibly hard with what they’ve got. We need to give them better.’
The couple said the hardest part of the ordeal was not knowing what their grandchildren could have become but they took some comfort in knowing they could help other families.
‘Hannah fought so hard to protect her children. The least we can do is try to fight to protect some other women and children too.’