Evidence markers on road at the crime scene in Robina killing. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News TWE170511crime
Evidence markers on road at the crime scene in Robina killing. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News TWE170511crime John Gass

Expert on murder-suicide case

A CRIMINOLOGY expert has told an inquest the ability to accept a separation could be a better indicator of the risk of a murder-suicide than physical violence during a relationship.

Criminology expert Michelle Hayes said Paul Rogers was emotionally violent towards his fiancée Tania Simpson, controlling her, following her, isolating her and making threats to kill her.

She said while he was not physically violent, as far as anyone knew, many men struggled with the loss of control after a separation.

"In particular, if they feel that person has moved on with their life," she said.

"The research says people will commit murder-suicide because they have nothing to lose.

"(Tania told friends she) didn't know what he was capable of and he was pretty messed up."

Rogers murdered Ms Simpson, their five-year-old daughter Kyla and Ms Simpson's new boyfriend Antony Way and Ms Simpson and Rogers's five-year-old daughter Kyla on May 15 last year.

Rogers killed Mr Way and Ms Simpson in her Robina unit before snatching Kyla from her bed, driving to a remote spot on the Bruxner Highway at Piora, west of Casino, and gassing himself and his daughter.

State Coroner Michael Barnes is holding an inquest at Southport to investigate how police responded to the triple murder-suicide and any links between domestic or family violence and homicide.

Ms Hayes said there were 44 murders in Queensland last year and 25 fell within the domestic and family violence category.

She said that since 2006, when her database began, there had been 18 murder-suicides with 24 female victims, four male victims, 13 male perpetrators and two female perpetrators.

Ms Hayes manages the State Coroner's Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Unit which is looking at such deaths in Queensland to identify system gaps and opportunities for early intervention.

She said about 50% of murders in this state seemed to fall under her study area, noting four out of five people would not alert anyone if confronted by domestic violence.

Ms Hayes said she did not have statistically relevant data on how many related to child access or custody cases but "based on the cases we have looked at there is often child custody issues".

She said she hoped the information the unit gathered could provide services with a better understanding of any links so they could change men's attitudes or intervene earlier to prevent further murder-suicides.

Ms Hayes said a greater focus on non-physical forms of domestic violence - such as emotional, psychological, obsessions or economic - could help.

Detective Sergeant Paul Dalton, from the Queensland Police Coronial Support Unit, said police had issued an alert over police radio about Kyla's possible abduction less than an hour after finding her mother's body at 8.23am.

He said they considered issuing a public child abduction alert twice in the next two hours but decided not to until about 2pm, issuing the alert about 3.30pm.

Authorities found the car containing Kyla and her father after 9pm with evidence suggesting they died about 3.30am.

Sgt Dalton said an internal review of the police handling of the case had recommended a revision of abduction alerts and other improvements to the system.

But he said there were "untold risks" if police had issued a child abduction alert with incorrect information.

He agreed it could throw investigators on the wrong track or lead to police being inundated with incorrect information.

Sgt Dalton said negotiation was about trust and broadcasting incorrect information through media channels could "seriously hamper or impinge or negotiation efforts".

"It would have been inappropriate to do it at an earlier stage," he said.

"It's a tool, not a necessity, to use under the right circumstances."
Sgt Dalton said with hindsight Rogers' actions towards Ms Simpson "definitely" amounted to domestic violence.

Lismore police inspector Bill McKenna said working with Queensland police to search for the car had been "seamless", despite phones ringing out more than once when he tried to ring detectives north of the border.

He also told the inquest triangulation, where a mobile phone signal is tracked to an approximate location, was an "inexact science" in rural areas because there were not enough towers or signal to get an accurate reading.

Mr McKenna made the latter comment after talking about a two-hour road block and spikes set up to catch Rogers based on mobile phone triangulation.

Parties will make their final submissions on Wednesday.

Mr Barnes could hand down his findings on Thursday or he might reserve them until a later date.

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