Burnt and dying, Hannah Clarke's last brave act revealed
HANNAH Clarke should be remembered as a hero, not a victim.
To her heartbroken family, that's what she was - a warrior no less.
It's a sentiment shared by everyone who knew Hannah and those who didn't, with even the state's top cop candidly revealing how much her final act of bravery touched first responders.
She had been doused in petrol and set alight, she'd seen her children murdered before her eyes - yet Hannah Clarke, bravely, heroically, spent her final minutes telling police exactly what her attacker had done.
It was this final act, according to Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll, that epitomised the woman she was.
"She showed this amazing courage and heroism right until the end, giving details to police and emergency services," she said.
"(She gave) a detailed statement of the horrific events that she went through.
"It encapsulates who Hannah is. She was strong. She was determined and she was courageous. And I think that is her to the core.
"She was determined, I mean, obviously in incredible pain, right through to when she passed, just to get the details out correctly.
"Just so, so strong. It was incredible.
"I could not even imagine, and I think that officers and the emergency services for the rest of their lives will be thinking of that moment and what she actually did.
"Because that puts us in a very, very good stead going forward in terms of the investigation to ensure that we have the outcome that she wanted to see and that we want to see in society.
"(It was the) most powerful evidence you can possibly have. It's extraordinary."
Ms Carroll said she had not seen the footage of Hannah telling police what had happened but said it had been difficult for investigators and other emergency services personnel who were there on the day.
"I have tried to keep myself very independent of those things. It is still before the coroner," she said.
"But it would have been extraordinarily harrowing. My investigators have to watch that, obviously as part of the evidence to go forward.
"It's probably just the most harrowing thing you could ever watch.
"Not only in real life, but to then have to go back and review the videos well."
Ms Carroll gave the rare insight as the Clarke family tells their story in today's Qweekend Magazine.
Hannah's parents, Sue and Lloyd Clarke, want their daughter to be remembered as a hero and not a victim.
To her family, Hannah was a warrior who died trying to protect her children.
The horrific murders of 31-year-old Hannah and her three children, Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4 and Trey, 3, showed Australia that domestic violence can be a hidden danger lurking behind the bright smiles of a picture-perfect social media account.
On February 19, Hannah pulled out of her parents' Camp Hill driveway to take her children to school.
She had recently moved back to her family home after escaping a marriage that had for years been frightening and controlling.
She was pulling out when her estranged husband Rowan Baxter jumped into the passenger seat, doused Hannah and the children with petrol and told her to drive.
A terrified Hannah drove around the corner before hitting the brakes on Raven St to shout for help.
Baxter set them all on fire, and, as people ran to help, shouted at them to let his victims burn.
Neighbours ran with garden hoses and Baxter got back into the car where he killed himself. She was still conscious and alert - despite having burns to 97 per cent of her body - when police, paramedics and firefighters arrived on scene.
The Clarke family has been told she walked to the stretcher and told police and emergency services exactly what had happened.
She told them she had tried to run in the hope he would follow her and spare their children. Police body worn cameras captured every word.
Her family believes she spent her last moments making sure Baxter would face justice.
Hannah was rushed to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital where she was placed on life support. She died soon after.
Ms Carroll said the murders had badly affected not only investigators, but officers who had known Hannah through her work at the local PCYC.
"I obviously went and saw them after the event," Ms Carroll said.
"I went to the station and spoke to them and I keep an eye on them from a distance, on how they're travelling.
"But I think also Hannah was probably considered part of the (police) family because she did work for the PCYC.
"They (the police officers) weren't travelling very well and I can understand that.
"We give them a lot of support, but when you look at some of the worst acts ever in a police officer's career, this would have to be, probably for a lot of them, at the top of the list.
"It was one of the worst things a police officer could ever be involved in or ever witness in their entire policing career."
Ms Carroll said conversations around domestic violence were"incredibly important".
She said Hannah had been young when she met Baxter and must have wondered whether her relationship with him was normal.
"From a lot of the investigations that we do, the partners - or women in most cases - just don't realise that they have actually been subjected to domestic violence," she said.
"And they start realising over many years and different issues that arise, that no, well, this is not the way that life should be.
"People used to think it was just a physical thing. It's financial, it's coercive, it's control, it's emotional and it's psychological. There's many many forms of it."
Ms Carroll said she had enormous respect for Hannah's family in keeping the conversation around domestic violence going.
She said their strength in speaking out left her with no doubt where Hannah got her courage.
"Brave, heroic, courageous," Ms Carroll said.
"That was her."
Read the full interview with Hannah Clarke's family in Qweekend on Saturday.
For more information and to donate to Small Steps for Hannah, visit smallsteps4hannah.com.au. All donations are tax deductible.
For help, please call: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service; DV Connect, 24 hour domestic violence helpline: 1800 811 811; or Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24-hour crisis support.
Originally published as BURNT, DYING: HANNAH'S EXTRAORDINARY FINAL POLICE INTERVIEW