Olga Edwards died five months after her former husband John Edwards killed their son and daughter.
Olga Edwards died five months after her former husband John Edwards killed their son and daughter. Nielsen, Victoria

The Family Court did not make John Edwards a killer

As some people turn domestic violence killer John Edwards into a Family Court martyr, SHERELE MOODY says it's important not to lose sight of the real victims - Olga and her kids.

WHY are people turning child killer and domestic violence thug John Edwards into a hard-done-by martyr of the Family Court?

On Wednesday, the body of Olga Edwards was found in the home where her son and daughter were murdered five months ago.

There is no doubt that John Edwards - Olga's former husband and the children's father - killed 15-year-old Jack and 13-year-old Jennifer.

Edwards shot the siblings on July 5 at their house in West Pennant Hills, NSW.

Police say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding Olga's death.

Those close to her said she was "struggling".

Rosie Batty, whose son was murdered in 2014, said she was supporting Olga before she died.

"I did feel with her a sense of hopelessness," Ms Batty told a media outlet.

There is no doubt that the deaths of Olga, Jennifer and Jack are devastating and an appalling indictment of the nature of domestic and family violence in our country.

But in the rush to a make sense of this tragedy, many people are turning a killer into a martyr and putting all the blame onto the Family Court.

The Family Court did not make Edwards dupe a gun club into allowing him to apply for, and receive, a gun permit even though he had been initially rejected because of his violent behaviour.


Olga Edwards and her children Jennifer and Jack.
Olga Edwards and her children Jennifer and Jack.

The court did not make the 68-year-old go out and buy two high-powered pistols.

It did not make him spend a year planning the children's murders, any more than it made him stalk his former wife's home until he had ascertained the children were alone.

The Family Court did not make him murder Jack and Jennifer as they hugged each other in fear in a bedroom.

The court did not make Edwards commit the ultimate act of cowardice by killing himself.

The court had nothing to do with Edwards's decision to deprive a loving mother of her children.

Those who say that the Family Court is responsible - even partially - for the deaths of Olga, Jack, Jennifer and John is devaluing the lives of his victims and removing blame from the killer.

Whenever a man involved in a custody dispute kills a mother and/or her children, people shout it's the "Family Court's fault".

It happened when grandfather Peter Miles slaughtered his four grandchildren, his daughter Katrina and his wife Cynda just weeks before Edwards's murderous rampage.

It happened when Arthur Freeman tossed his four-year-old daughter Darcy off the West Gate Bridge in Melbourne.

It happened when Robert Farquharson drowned his sons in a Victorian dam on Father's Day in 2005.

Miles killed himself. Freeman and Farquharson are serving lengthy prison terms.


SOMERVILLE,AUSTRALIA -12 APRIL 2017: Photo of Rosie Batty, an Australian domestic violence campaigner and the 2015 Australian of the Year recipient, outside the NAB branch in Somerville on Wednesday 12 April 2017. PHOTO LUIS ENRIQUE ASCUI
Rosie Batty supported Olga Edwards following the murder of Jack and Jennifer. Luis Ascui

I have documented more than 1600 murders of women and children in Australia and I can categorically tell you that not one of these people was killed by the Family Court or anyone connected to it.

Yes, in some cases there was court involvement between the victims and their killers but this was not the reason for their deaths.

However, my research shows that the most common thread in familial homicides is controlling abusive violent angry people making the decision to murder.

I acknowledge that Australia's family law system has many failures including sometimes handing children to abusive parents while denying non-abusive parents access to their kids.

But for all its flaws, the system - including the court, the judges and the lawyers - is not a killer.

In Edwards's case, he was banned from seeing Jack and Jennifer because he was a danger to them.

His decision to kill the teenagers shows that even though the court sought to protect the children and Olga, in the end it was not effective.

A court's decision is powerless in the face of someone's unrelenting desire to destroy another human being and that means the only person responsible for the deaths of Olga, Jennifer and Jack is John Edwards.

Edwards does not deserve our sympathy.

He does not deserve our grief.

He does not deserve to be a martyr.

All Edwards deserves is our contempt.

News Corp journalist Sherele Moody is the recipient of the 2018 BandT Women in Media Social Change Maker Award and has multiple Clarion and Walkley Our Watch journalism excellence awards for her work reducing violence against women and children. She is also the founder of The RED HEART Campaign and the creator of the Femicide Australia Map.