Source: The Examiner
The ongoing welfare of two children entangled in a double murder in southern Tasmania yesterdayis of primary concern to authorities as investigations begin into the horror crime.
A nine-year-old girl called police at 5am after her mother and her mother’s 34-year-old partner were shot dead inside their home at Hamilton in the state’s south.
At 6.20am, a police officer approached the suspect’s vehicle that was parked on the side of the road at Lachlan about 45 minutes from the murder scene.
The officer found the driver, a 59-year-old man, next to the vehicle with a gunshot wound to the head, but still alive. There was a one-year-old baby boy in the car, who was unharmed.
Detective Inspector Colin Riley said the alleged gunman was previously in a relationship with the 31-year-old deceased woman.
Police emphasised there was no known history of violence.
He said both children, who have different fathers, were now being cared for by their grandparents.
“It appears to me that the nine-year-old has heard what occurred in the house. We’re still ascertaining as to what was seen by that child, but in saying all of that it’s a very horrific experience for that child and obviously we are keen to focus on welfare support to help her with something she’s going to have to carry for the rest of her life,” Detective Inspector Riley said.
The 59-year-old man is in a critical condition at the Royal Hobart Hospital. He remains under police guard, with a family member reported to be keeping vigil.
Tasmania Police professional standards will examine the circumstances that led to his shooting at Lachlan.
It’s believed the man shot himself just before or just as a police officer parked his car nearby.
“We still have a lot of water to go under the bridge in relation to the investigation. I suppose, minimum case scenario, the biological father has taken his one- year-old child (from the house at Hamilton) and at the other extreme there is a potential abduction,” Detective Inspector Riley said.
“We’ve got professional standards involved in this investigation, looking particularly at the incident in Lachlan, just to make sure there is no concern, but from what I’ve seen the attending police officer did an exceptional job in his initial response.”
Two firearms have been confiscated. Police are yet to release details of the type of guns used or whether they were registered.
The scene at Lachlan was cleared by early afternoon, but it is expected to take some time for officers to sift through all the evidence at the property at Hamilton.
Detective Inspector Riley said the dead couple had moved into the house – a few kilometres outside the small, rural village of Hamilton – four months ago.
The man killed was unrelated to the children.
The dead woman’s other child, believed to be 12, lives elsewhere and is being cared for.
Detective Inspector Colin Riley accompanies another officer to the scene of yesterday’s double murder.