Terror at home: the crimes that shocked us all
IN THE past year, two of our region's most shocking murders have been family tragedies, occurring within the four walls the victims have called home.
A double stabbing in Newtown in January last year, and the Biddeston deaths two weeks ago, have highlighted the terror of family violence and the devastating effects it has on the community.
A one-off episode when a family member snaps or escalating abuse - the anatomy of family violence changes from situation to situation, but accounts for an alarming percentage of police work.
As Darling Downs district officer Detective Inspector Dave Isherwood says, the reality is a lot of domestics end up in serious offences being committed.
"The figures are quite alarming. About 40% of homicides are domestic violence related, as a result of association by family member or partner," he said.
Det Insp Isherwood is the one who responds to these situations when it's too late and hopes a focus on early intervention strategies will help prevent the escalation of domestic violence.
Our district is tracking to be 11% higher in reported offences over the previous year
He said often one-off events may have been the result of escalating episodes which had gone unreported to police.
"Many victims of family abuse won't report until the situation has escalated beyond their control," he said.
"In Biddeston there had been no reported acts of domestic violence with respect to the parties involved.
"That doesn't mean it had or hadn't occurred, but it had never been brought to the attention of the police."
He said the suspected murder-suicide was considered an act of family violence, despite having no precursor.
"It is not uncommon for police to not be aware."
HELP US TO STOP THE TERROR AT HOME
He thought attitudes in the community towards domestic violence had changed dramatically during the last few decades.
"Years ago police would attend and mainly be looking for evidence of assault or physical injury. Today that's not the case. It can be emotional, mental or verbal damage.
"The bottom line is the standard the community expected 20 or so years ago has changed dramatically."
He said the statistics showed a rise in reports of domestic violence in the Darling Downs district this year.
"Our district is tracking to be 11% higher in reported offences over the previous year.
"No one wants to see reports increase but I look it at a positive for the fact people are more inclined to report domestic violence than previously."
THE suspected murder-suicide of three family members in Biddeston last week has left a community with many unanswered questions.
The Sharpley family home became a crime scene after police discovered the bodies of the heavily pregnant, 27-year-old Kris-Deann Sharpley, her 52-year-old father Derek Sharpley and her seven-year-old son Jackson.
The young boy was tucked in bed with no obvious injuries while his grandfather had a horrific gunshot injury to his head.
A high-powered rifle was found in the same bedroom.
Darling Downs district officer Detective Inspector Dave Isherwood said the autopsy findings all but confirmed the police view that the tragic deaths of three family members in Biddeston was a murder-suicide.
"We've got evidence from the forensic pathologist to say that it is more than likely that the gunshot to the male victim was self-inflicted," Det. Insp. Isherwood said.
"There are still further tests to be done, but that is a preliminary finding which would indicate more in line with what has been supposed that it could be a murder-suicide."
A heartfelt note attached to the Biddeston State School where Jackson attended school gave insight into the impact the young boy's murder has had on his small community.
"Dear little Jackson," it read.
"May you, your mother and your grandfather rest in peace forever in the Lord's arms. P.S. We will miss that cheeky smile."
POLICE say the teenager charged with the stabbing of Melanie Perks and her daughter Ebonie, 12, displayed signs of irrational, violent behaviour before the killings.
Melanie and Ebonie were found stabbed to death in their Newtown home on January 28 last year.
The 17-year-old man, who cannot be named as he was a juvenile of 16 when he was charged with the murders, has been held in custody since his arrest on the day the bodies of the mother and daughter were found.
In February this year, the accused teenager's solicitor Phil Stainton of Legal Aid Queensland's Toowoomba office told the Children's Court his client's matters were still to be heard before the Mental Health Court.
Darling Downs district officer Detective Inspector Dave Isherwood said there was often a link between mental health issues and violent behaviours.
" ... the accused had become more irrational.
"That's a precursor for... violence.
"He had been, probably not so much physically violent, but aggressive and that's an act of... violence.''