‘Evil’ dad laced kids’ juice with sedatives
IT WAS the afternoon of October 20, 2016 when Jason Headland bought some sedative medication as part of an "evil" plan to kill his two young children.
His wife Anatoria made it clear to Jason they could not be reconcile, leading him to devise a horrifying plot.
Headland told her he was going to "break your heart into 50 million pieces" and to say goodbye to her children, Zaraiyah-Lily, 5, and Andreas, 3.
"This is the last time you're going to speak to them," he said.
Tragically, it was. By the time police went to do a welfare check after Anatoria alerted them, it was too late.
The two children were already dead. The sedatives had been crushed up in their juice and they were found asphyxiated in their father's bed.
Headland had left a note at the bottom of the bed.
His sentencing Judge described it as a "very callous, shallow and self-centred note".
Headland indicated he had chosen to kill the children to punish Anatoria for her decision to end their relationship.
Coroner Sarah Helen Linton, in an inquest into the children's deaths, said he professed his love for Zaraiyah-Lily and Andreas, but it was clear that his actions were "prompted by hatred, selfishness and vindictiveness and he had no regard for the welfare of his children". "Any previous description of him as a loving father was undone forever at the moment he coldly and cruelly took their lives," she said.
Ms Linton said Headland had previously "chillingly" spoken about the father in South
Australia who drove to the Port Lincoln pier where he shot his two young sons, aged 4 and 9 months, before shooting himself and then driving the car off the pier and into the ocean.
Headland had said to Anatoria words to the effect of, "Is that what you want me to do?".
Ms Linton said the Zaraiyah-Lily and Andreas' deaths stood out as two of the worst she had dealt with.
She found that the police officer first alerted of Anatoria's concerns should have trusted her sense "that something wasn't right".
Ms Linton said she couldn't help but wonder if things might have been different if the officer had been allowed to rely more on her gut instinct.
"When I say things might have been different, I am not suggesting that the deaths would definitely have been averted, as it is clear Jason had formulated a plan from at least early afternoon, and was intent on putting that plan into effect," she said.
"In the end, I am left with a feeling of disquiet, as the police recruit who took the initial report had a very strong, instinctive feeling that something was amiss, and it was through the advice of her superiors, and following police procedures, that she was directed to take a less direct path to checking on the children's welfare.
"I understand that every situation is different, but I believe this case reinforces the need for police officers to trust their instincts more, particularly where vulnerable children are involved. Ms Linton said there had been too many recent cases where men had killed family members without warning, so any opportunity to intervene must be taken seriously.
"I know that these cases are rare, but the consequences are so great that I think it should be at the back of every police officer's mind when being asked to conduct a welfare check on a child," she said.
"I encourage every police officer to remember these deaths when considering how to prioritise welfare checks on children during a marriage breakdown."
Headland claimed he had no memory of how he killed the children but admitted causing their deaths.
He pleaded guilty to their murders and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 31 years.
"What he did was beyond the contemplation of even his closest family members and they are
still reeling from the aftermath of his evil acts," Ms Linton said.