Hannah Clarke’s Parents Reveal Her Final Heroic Act To Protect Her Children
Hannah Clarke’s parents have revealed their daughter kept herself alive long enough to tell paramedics enough information so her killer wouldn’t get away with what he did to their children.
The 31-year-old had suffered burns to 97 percent of her body on Wednesday morning when she managed to flee her burning car that had been doused in petrol and set alight by her estranged husband Rowan Baxter.
Knowing her three children, Laianah, four, Aaliyah, six, and Trey, three had perished inside the vehicle, Hannah used her final moments to tell the first responders fighting to save her exactly what had happened in the moments leading up to their murder.
"To the end, she fought to make sure if he survived he got punished for doing that to her babies," Hannah's distraught family told Channel 9 on Friday.
"I think she passed out after that. She made sure she got out as much information as possible."
Since Wednesday's tragedy, more details have emerged of the terror Hannah and her children were subjected to prior to their murder.
On Friday, 10 News First exclusively revealed text messages between Clarke and a friend, who asked to remain anonymous, discussing an upcoming court battle and her hope for the future.
The first message, dated January 1, showed Clarke was excited for the new year and even praised the Queensland Police for helping her escape her former partner.
"Things are pretty bad but I'm so glad I took the big step," she said.
"I have all my babies back together and they can't be taken again (for a while at least!) thank god for amazing police officers going above and beyond.
"I'll get there and 2020 will be my year."
In later messages, the woman praised Clarke for leaving her ex-partner and offered strong words of encouragement to her friend throughout her court battle.
"The cycle of violence, harassment, and emotional abuse is horrible - as the victim, you always think it's your fault or that you can't get away," the friend said.
"You have broken that cycle."
Now, Hannah's parents have revealed the emotional abuse the devoted mother suffered, had begun years before she would eventually flee Baxter with her children in 2019.
Sue and Lloyd detailed how Baxter had controlled how Hannah dressed, who she communicated with, tracked her phone and had subjected her to sexual as well as emotional and physical abuse.
But the family admits they didn't recognise the abuse for a long time, and for many years Hannah had hidden the extent of it from her family.
"He was very good at playing the victim," Sue said of Baxter.
Hannah's brother recalled how Aaliyah would plead with her father when he would emotionally abuse her mother.
"Her eldest Aaliyah would cry to him "Please speak to mum, she hasn't done anything wrong."
But Sue admitted while Hannah thought he might kill her and was terrified of him even after she escaped, no one ever thought Baxter would hurt his own children.
"She said to me only last week "Mum should I do a will? What happens to my babies if he kills me? Because he'll go to jail for murder, who gets my children?"
The family's violent murder has renewed calls for change in domestic and family violence policies across the country after it was confirmed Queensland police were aware Hannah had been a victim and had spoken to both her and Baxter a number of times.
On Friday, Queensland's police commissioner Katarina Carroll visited Hannah's family after a comment made by a detective on the case sparked outrage online when he suggested Baxter could have been 'driven too far'.
Detective Inspector Mark Thompson stood down from the investigation following outrage over the comment made on Thursday.
Carroll told reporters on Friday that she had explained what had happened to Hannah's parents who had been "completely understanding."
"(They) actually asked me to contact the officer to say they are in no way offended and to sincerely thank us for their support."
Hannah's family is now launching a 'Small Steps for Hannah' campaign in the hopes it will help other domestic violence victims. They urged Australians to spread love to their family and friends and to remember Hannah and her children as "beautiful people".
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, dial 000. If you need help and advice, call 1800Respect on 1800 737 732, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.