The psychologist had “no concerns” with Baxter
Rowan Baxter bought fuel, zip ties and three Kinder Surprise chocolates in the days before his ex-wife and children were set on fire in a car on a Brisbane street, an inquest has heard.
Less than a month earlier, a psychologist wrote a reference saying she had no concerns about Baxter’s mental health.
Five days after Vivian Jarrett’s review of Baxter’s parenting strategies revealed that everything appeared to be in order for him to reconnect with his three children, the 42-year-old wrote a death note.
Found after he took his own life with his family in February 2020, it contained the words: ‘I finish your game. I don’t want to play anymore. I told the kids you loved them. They will miss you, I’ I am on.”
Dr. Jarrett agreed with counsel assisting the coroner Jacoba Brasch that Baxter was at high risk of harming others due to his separation, controlling behavior and jealousy.
She was aware he may be trying to ‘pull the wool’ over her eyes – in their six sessions from December 2019 – to create good evidence for the family court in a bid to regain access to his children.
But she did not detail those concerns in her typed notes after each session.
“I didn’t think it was relevant to document it,” Dr Jarrett told the inquest on Wednesday.
She knew Baxter was under a temporary protective order but did not see him or ask about it.
Dr Brasch said the psychologist had always written the “letter of commendation” about Baxter a month before he killed his family and gave a statement to the police the day after their deaths saying he had “a cool head and low risk”.
“Mr. Baxter has been stressed by the fact that his wife left him suddenly, but he is coping remarkably well considering the situation with a range of people,” the letter reads.
“He was very open and sincere during our sessions.
“I have no concerns about his mental health.
“Contact with his children would be ideal and after reviewing his parenting strategies, everything seems in order for him to reconnect.”
Dr Jarrett insisted that Baxter’s mental health had improved partly based on a questionnaire he completed before each session.
“I just have the information in front of me,” she said.
Earlier, the psychologist infuriated Dr Brasch when it was revealed that she had not handed over all of her Baxter-related documents.
“It hadn’t crossed my mind,” she said.
Ms Clarke was leaving her parents’ Camp Hill home to take her children – Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three – to school when Baxter got into the car, poured fuel into the interior and set it on fire on February 19, 2020.
Wednesday’s inquest also found that incidents of partners “soaking” with flammable liquid had risen by 50 per cent since Ms Clarke’s death, often as a way of terrorizing women.
Social workers at Brisbane Domestic Violence Services, who cannot be identified, said they believed Ms Clarke was not in imminent danger in the month before her murder and also considered the police response to her situation to be appropriate .
The organization’s sole intake worker said up to 60 referrals were coming into the service by the time she spoke to Ms Clarke on December 9, 2019.
Another worker said the service gets more than 4,000 referrals a year.
Asked that the police had not been informed that Ms Clarke had been choked by Baxter during sex in November, a worker said that many women had spoken of strangulation.
The response of social workers may depend on the women’s willingness to tell the police.
“There are so many reports of strangulation, sprinkling has increased by 50% in some cases since Hannah died,” she added.
“It becomes a much more active means of terrorizing women.”
The worker said some men were “just bullying with it” while others started fires.
Another worker saw Ms Clarke at her parents’ home on January 8 after Baxter abducted one of their children on Boxing Day.
The behavior was a ‘huge red flag’ but, with police and the service already involved, the worker did not believe Ms Clarke was at imminent risk.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Lifeline 13 11 14