A crowd of mourners gathered just one kilometre from where Hannah Clarke and her three children were burnt has heard of the mum’s heroic efforts to help her family right up until the final moments of her life.
A day before she died, the 31-year-old personal trainer visited the local Police Citizens Youth Club and spoke with a friend about her plan to join the police force, Sergeant David Beard said at a vigil in south Brisbane on Sunday night.
“Right through to her passing, Hannah showed amazing courage and heroism, ensuring that she gave our police and emergency services at the scene a detailed statement of the horrific events that unfolded,” Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll revealed.
A heartbroken community stood by the family and friends of Ms Clarke and her children Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey who were killed by Rowan Baxter after he doused them in petrol and set their car alight.
Commissioner Carroll told the 1000-strong crowd Ms Clarke was strong, determined and courageous – and would have made an excellent police officer.
“Hannah’s determination to provide our police the information they needed to ensure justice should be served truly encapsulates the sort of person Hannah was.”
Heartbreaking Instagram posts by Ms Clarke before her death had also revealed her dreams of setting an example to her daughters as “a survivor, not a victim” of domestic violence.
Baxter murdered his children and former partner by setting the car they were in alight while Ms Clarke was doing the morning school run.
There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her children who “laughed every single day”, friend Lou Farmer said.
“Hannah carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and you never knew it, her strength was only matched by her wicked sense of humour.
“Life will never be the same without you here, you have touched the hearts of all Australians and we pledge your deaths will not be in vain.”
In thanking the community for their overwhelming support, Hannah’s father Lloyd told of how he was able to draw on the strength of not just friends and family, “but also the many strangers” when it “seemed impossible to go on”.
Dressed in pink, Mr Clarke said he was “forever thankful to our neighbours and those who were first on the scene who tried to desperately help Hannah and the children.”
“You have restored our faith that there are many good and decent people in the world.”
Ms Clarke’s brother Nathaniel Clarke said his sister would always think of others before herself and was simply “the most amazing person you could ever meet”.
“You would always leave there smiling. She had to share everyone’s big moments and she would always be there,” he said.
While many tried to remember the best of Ms Clarke and her children, mourners could also not hide their grief over one of the state’s worst acts of domestic violence.
“I don’t want us to get caught up in the blame game — there was no excuse, there could never be an excuse,” friend Nikki Brookes said.
“The blame lives and dies with him.
“We are a nation in pain, whether you knew our beautiful Hannah or not, we are all deeply affected by this tragedy.”
A mass of flowers and children’s toys were laid at the front of the vigil, while hundreds of condolence messages have been written by a community still in shock.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk commended Hannah’s family for speaking out against domestic violence so soon after her death.
“The grief being felt by the family and friends of Hannah and her children, I cannot even begin to comprehend,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“But in this extraordinarily difficult time, they have found the grace and dignity and a profound level of courage to speak out so that we stand together to put an end to the scourge of domestic violence.”
It emerged at the weekend that Baxter rejected his lawyer’s advice during a mediation session with Clarke and refused to sign the order that would allow him 165 days of custody per year.
Instead, Baxter signed a non-legally binding agreement that gave him just as much access to the children as their mother.
However, he lost access to his children in early February when police charged him with breaching a domestic violence order (DVO).
It comes as, in an unrelated case, a man charged with the stabbing murder of a 49-year-old woman in an alleged case of domestic violence is set to front Townsville Magistrates Court in Queensland on Monday.
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