World news – Gun registry manager tells inquest she would have given child killer a firearms licence


A NSW Firearms Registry manager has told an inquest she would still have granted John Edwards a gun licence despite 15 domestic violence entries on his police database profile.

The manager supervised clerks who gave Edwards access to weapons in the form of a commissioner’s permit in January 2017 — 18 months before he shot dead his teenage children Jack and Jennifer.

An inquest into the deaths has heard 15 incidents recorded on the 68-year-old’s police profile — including assaults, intimidation and stalking — were essentially ignored by registry staff in assessing the application.

The staff were instead focused on specific information about a past AVO and whether it was more than 10 years old, each believing colleagues would perform a complete check of Edwards’s record.

« It’s obvious that we could have placed more weight on the incidents that happened, » the manager, whose name is suppressed, told the court today.

« Obviously, hindsight is a wonderful thing and we’ve all been quite traumatised by it … but I probably would have granted the licence as well. »

The witness said if she had been adjudicating on the applications she would look at the person’s age, the period of time since the AVO and any reasons to refuse them on the basis the applicant was not a fit and proper person.

The woman, who is also a former police officer, blamed her staff for misunderstanding their roles.

« They need to search [the police database] thoroughly to make sure it was appropriate to issue the permit, » she said.

But while « policy » called for a thorough search of the records, there were no written versions of any policies or procedures in 2017, she admitted.

Instead, staff received « on-the-job training » and the manager said it didn’t seem necessary to have anything written down about how to adjudicate and apply legislation.

Guidelines are now readily available and staff use sets of questions about identifying risk, she said.

There is also an automatic escalation of any application where a person has lied on their forms or has a history of domestic violence to a panel which includes senior police officers.

How Edwards came to access guns despite a long history of domestic violence has become a central issue to the inquest.

He retrieved two guns from St Marys Pistol Club, where he was a member, a day before tracking 13-year-old Jennifer’s bus trip to her West Pennant Hills home.

There, he shot the two children before driving to his nearby home and turning the gun on himself.

This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)


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