National

Edwards made yearly threat to ‘kill ex’

By AAP Newswire

Olga Edwards heard her abusive husband make yearly threats to kill an ex-partner who "took the children away" from him, a NSW inquest has heard.

Fears during her own divorce from John Edwards, who later murdered her children, were so prominent they formed part of almost every discussion about parenting orders with her barrister Peter Fowler, the NSW Coroners Court was told on Thursday.

Olga had stated Edwards would mark the anniversary of the 2002 death of an estranged child by making verbal threats to kill the child's mother "because she took the children away from him", Mr Fowler said.

"That was something Olga heard every year of the relationship and that bore on her mind," the barrister said.

Olga had also outlined how Edwards slept with a machete under his bed and had been violent towards their children, Jack and Jennifer, during their 15-year marriage.

Mr Fowler said that after the 2016 separation, Olga had significant fears Edwards was stalking her and the kids.

He turned up at her dawn yoga class, she once saw him driving past her house and one of his statements in family court proceedings indicated knowledge of Jennifer's route to school.

Edwards also arrived unexpectedly when Olga and Jennifer were selling cupcakes for charity at a shopping centre.

She refused to disclose the family's new address during the divorce proceedings.

When a judge in June 2016 proposed to allow Edwards to know the family address if he stayed at least 500 metres away, Edwards declined.

"The fact he declined to agree to that concerned her," Mr Fowler said.

Olga, who took her life five months after her children's murders in July 2018, was "disappointed and surprised" in the police response to her reporting Edwards had stalked her and been violent to the children, Mr Fowler said.

The barrister had "little doubt" Olga would have taken the children out of school and made moves to "further secrete" the family's whereabouts had she known he had a gun licence.

Edwards was granted the rifle and pistols licences in June 2017 after firearms registry staff failed to take note of adverse events on his police record.

He used his legally owned Glock pistol to murder Jack, 15, and Jennifer, 13, in their Sydney home before returning to his home and shooting himself.

The police superintendent parachuted into the position of registry commander after the July 2018 deaths told the inquest staff were now extensively trained on the criteria for granting licences and how to notice patterns of risk in domestic violence.

Superintendent Anthony Bell said when he arrived he found clerks and their supervisors were processing 300 licences weekly without properly determining if a person was "fit and proper" as required by law.

"I found some were, but the majority didn't (carry it out) and they didn't have a true understanding of that component," Supt Bell told the inquest on Thursday .

"They struggled because of the subjective nature (of the term)."

Asked how the registry had reached a state of failing a central aspect of its job - determining who was safe to get a gun licence - Supt Bell said it was a question for his predecessor, retired superintendent Bruce Lyons, and the former management.

"I identified it pretty early," Supt Bell said.

"It's a concern. It was a red flag to me as a police officer. The whole way I go about it is 'What does the legislation say?'"

He said staff had been instructed to escalate to senior adjudicators when unsure about whether to grant a licence.

The inquest resumes on Monday.