One of the most shocking cases that rocked Australia was when Rowan Baxter burned his wife Hannah Clarke and their three young children Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, to death outside their home in Brisbane in broad daylight in February 2020. After dousing the car in petrol and setting it alight, Baxter, 42, jumped out and stabbed himself to death. Hannah, 31, was rushed to hospital but died hours later – but not before she bravely recounted what her estranged husband had done.
“I’m not 100 per cent sure how the events went, but he ambushed her and got her in the car. But she managed to give a detailed report to the medics and first responders there,” Hannah’s father Lloyd told A Current Affair. “To the end she fought so that if he survived, he got punished for doing that to her babies,” her mother Suzanne said.
With a history of domestic violence, Baxter emotionally, physically and financially abused Hannah throughout their marriage. He was subjected to a DVO after he allegedly kidnapped Aaliyah on Boxing Day. He later ignored his lawyer’s advice for mediation and refused the consent order allowing him custody of his children 165 days a year.
Lloyd said it was “Rowan’s way or the highway”.
“The more we put pressure on, the more we said no, the worse he got,” he added.
“He could manipulate her,” Suzanne said. “The night before he killed them, he was on the phone to the children, crying. When the children hung up, she said to me, ‘Mum, I feel so bad for him’.
“He was very good at playing the victim himself.”