ROSIE Batty may have acted differently on the day her son Luke was killed by his father had she been made aware her estranged partner had made disturbing death threats towards a housemate just weeks earlier, the ABC’s Four Corners program revealed on Monday.
Greg Anderson, who murdered Luke by bashing him with a cricket bat and stabbing him with a knife following a mid-week cricket practice session at Tyabb on 12 February, threatened to cut his housemate’s head off during an argument at the Chelsea Heights home they shared.
Police failed to mention the incident to Ms Batty despite contacting her just a week before Luke’s death in their efforts to track Anderson down over the grisly death threat.
Ms Batty said that had she been told of the death threat and multiple warrants out for Anderson’s arrest, she may have been more aware of the danger she and her son were in.
“A lot of us are very careless saying ‘I could kill you, you know, you’re driving me mad’ … but to actually say … to decapitate someone. They’re not light comments,” she told Four Corners.
The incidents leading up to Luke’s murder and Ms Batty’s subsequent crusade to both shed light on the fragmented response to family violence and improve protection for victims, were the focus of the latest Four Corners investigation.
Ms Batty has refused to blame police or government agencies for failing to prevent her son’s death, instead choosing to use the tragedy to try to highlight systemic deficiencies and improve the response to domestic violence.
However, she warns there will be more tragedies unless something is done. “Things happen in such a fragmented fashion … each statement you make to the police is a separate statement, each policeman you meet is a different policeman, each organisation is doing their own job with their own focus,” she says.
“No-one’s taking an overarching look at everything that’s going on together. No-one’s looking at the complete picture.”
While there is no definitive answer to the question of whether Luke’s brutal death could have been prevented, the program makes clear more could and should have been done to protect him and his mother.
For years, Ms Batty struggled to manage the increasingly violent behaviour of Luke’s father of her son. “She called for help – loud and clear. She involved the police, the courts, child protection and social workers to keep her son and herself safe. But this didn’t happen,” says reporter Geoff Thompson.
Ms Batty said that while Anderson’s behaviour was never going to “put him away”, some degree of intervention may have been “just enough for him to rethink, or maybe enough of a red flag for me to understand what acute danger Luke and I were in”.
Victoria Police Commissioner Ken Lay, who has worked closely with Ms Batty since Luke’s murder in order to address shortcomings in the way family violence is addressed, agrees the system needs to be overhauled.
“When you need to look someone in the eye like Rosie and hear how the system dealt with her and understand how the system may have let some of those people down, it’s very, very confronting,” said Mr Lay.
A coronial inquest into the events leading to Luke’s murder and subsequent fatal shooting of Greg Anderson by police will be held in October.