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‘How could he look in his kid’s eyes and throw petrol over them?’

THIS was a crime too horrific to even contemplate; a senseless act of violence that has rightly shaken Brisbane to its core. What unfolded yesterday on Raven St at Camp Hill was, as we observe on our front page today, simply unthinkable.

A suburban father, increasingly agitated and aggressive, confronts his estranged wife and mother of their three beautiful young children in their car on the way to school.

He douses them in petrol and then deliberately sets the vehicle alight.

All three children die, while heroic neighbours try in vain to save the life of their loving mum - who stumbles screaming from the burning wreck, her skin alight: "He's poured petrol on me!"

What the man - and, really, there's no point naming him - was thinking at the time, no one will ever know.

Hannah Baxter and son Trey.
Hannah Baxter and son Trey.

He's now dead. Good riddance. And yet his death does mean the big questions will remain unanswered: How could a man look in his children's eyes and then throw petrol over them?

What could possibly entice such hate? Were there signs that nobody saw, or reported? Could those precious little lives been saved if action had been taken? We won't ever know.

What we do know is the couple had operated a gym together in Capalaba. They separated in December, and Hannah took the kids to live with her parents in Camp Hill. (Camp Hill! Could there be a more unlikely scene for such unspeakable evil?)

Those kids. Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey. Caught in the crossfire of the split. The elder two were students at Belmont State School. The youngest, the type of cheeky three-year-old whose smile lit up the family videos shared for friends on Facebook.

 

Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey Baxter.
Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey Baxter.

 

But now they're gone. Three innocent young lives snuffed out by the man who nature had entrusted to protect them from harm. How to make sense of it? You can't.

There is no way to make sense of the senseless. Here was a man who appeared to be like any other suburban dad. He posted on social media about the love he had for his kids. His mates replied with messages of support for the tough time he was going through.

This could have been anyone's family, neighbours, friends. In fact, we feel we knew them. They were so suburban. So normal. So ... Brisbane.

We feel helpless. How can we not? But perhaps one thing we can do is to use this as a painful reminder to look out for those in our own lives; to pick up on signs of trouble and to ask our mates if they're OK, to maybe even report to the authorities activities that are unseemly or suspicious.

And yet this despair endures. A punch, hard to the heart.

 

The scene of the tragedy on Raven St, Camp Hill. Picture: Steve Pohlner
The scene of the tragedy on Raven St, Camp Hill. Picture: Steve Pohlner

 

But stop. Think of the tradie who was working on the next street, who saw the smoke, and whose first instinct was to run towards it and try to save the kids from the burning car.

He suffered significant burns, so desperate was he to help. A true hero.

Much love too to the neighbours who tried in vain to save Hannah. With their garden hoses.

Our thoughts should also be with the fireys, paramedics and police called to this scene of unimaginable horror. They have been offered support and counselling.

Yet we know many will be troubled by what they saw for years. They have proved again they are the best of us.

Right across our city yesterday, in weatherboard homes on quiet roads just like Raven St, in suburbs just like Camp Hill, so many of us shed a tear.

Last night, we held our children just that bit tighter. And maybe - just maybe - that's where we can find some solace. Days like these shock us with the worst of humanity. But they can also leave us more thankful for the good in it too.

Rest in peace little ones.

LIFELINE AUSTRALIA: 13 11 14

 

 

 

 

PRESSURE ON BRONCO BUCKS

 

 

THE absence of injured forward leader Matt Lodge has sent a message to the young Bronco forwards that it's time to grow from boys to men.

Lodge's absence with a knee injury leaves a leadership vacuum in a Broncos pack brimming with youngsters who ooze talent but are yet to truly bond as a unit.

The likes of Tevita Pangai, Payne Haas, David Fifita and Jake Turpin are still in the early stages of their careers and cannot be expected to be as consistent as seasoned veterans while they are learning the rigours of first grade.

But Lodge's absence has placed pressure on them to be leaders as well as star individual talents.

 

Matt Lodge after he was injured at training. Picture: AAP/Darren England
Matt Lodge after he was injured at training. Picture: AAP/Darren England

 

Former Broncos captain Corey Parker said last week for the pack to reach its potential they have to play for each other and as a unit.

That message is more relevant now that Lodge is expected to be out for the opening eight to 10 rounds of the season.

Sometimes setbacks such as this can make a club stronger.

While news of Lodge's absence was initially numbing for the club, it may prompt a new leader to rise in his absence and when he returns the team could be even stronger than it was before he left.

 

 

Responsibility for election comment is taken by the Editor Chris Jones, corner of Mayne Rd & Campbell St, Bowen Hills, Qld 4006. Printed and published by NEWSQUEENSLAND (ACN 009 661 778). Contact details are available at www.couriermail.com.au/help/contact-us



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