The brutal killing of an 11-year-old boy at cricket training by his father could have been avoided if Victorian police had known there were warrants out for the man’s arrest.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay has revealed that an old IT system hid the outstanding arrest warrants for Gregory Anderson, who killed his son on Wednesday night at a sports oval in Melbourne’s south east.
Chief Commissioner Lay said there were five warrants out for 54-year-old Anderson’s arrest, but he said police who visited his address late on January 27 over an assault did not know of the warrants because of a shortfall in the police IT system.
The warrants were only visible to the officers investigating the original incident. If the suspect had not been taken into custody in two weeks, the IT system then made them available to all police.
“So for two weeks we’ve got this gap were broader police can’t see the existence of these warrants … If police would’ve gone to that address a day later, those warrants would have been visible,” Chief Commissioner Lay said.
“I want to be absolutely clear. I am not saying the IT system was the overall issue here. It was one part of it. This is one piece of it.”
Chief Commissioner Lay said he did not want to make any judgements at this stage, and that an inquiry would help police better understand any failings in this case.
“Should we have been better able to predict? We’ve known there’ve been shortcomings in the Victoria Police IT system for a decade.”
However, Mr Lay stressed this was only one factor in a complex set of circumstances.
“This is not me blaming an IT system for the death of a young boy. It is one part of a very complex issue for us,” Mr Lay told reporters.
Mr Lay said various reports had highlighted the force’s antiquated IT system, which had been neglected for 15 years.
He said the state government made a considerable investment to improve it a year ago but it still required an overhaul.
Anderson, who had a history of violence before brutally killing Luke at Tyabb, died after being shot by police.
Victoria’s Commissioner for Children, Bernie Geary, flagged a review into the services provided to the Batty family.
“Our sympathies go out to this unbelievably brave woman and to hear her speak is just actually inspiring,” Mr Geary told ABC radio.
“It’s a sad story of the anguish and incomprehensible actions that happen sometimes that travel with mental illness. The intention of the review is to look at how we can enhance services, look at what works best and in this case what maybe hasn’t worked.”
Yesterday, Ms Batty told reporters of her “shock” and “disbelief”, explaining that her estranged partner was a man who loved his son, but a man who had suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness for two decades (read the full story here).