Hannah Clarke’s parents have revealed the mum-of-three’s heartbreaking final moments in hospital and why they couldn’t hug their daughter goodbye.
The 31-year-old mother died in hospital hours after her husband Rowan Charles Baxter killed their three children after ambushing the family on their morning school run in Brisbane on February 19.
Baxter doused their car in petrol and set them on fire. Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, died at the scene.
Hannah, who jumped from the driver’s seat of her car screaming ‘he’s poured petrol on me’, succumbed to her injuries after suffering burns to 97 per cent of her body.
Baxter died at the scene from self-inflicted knife wounds.
Hannah’s parents, Suzanne and Lloyd Clarke, spoke in detail with the Q Weekend, revealing how Hannah spent her final moments in the Royal Brisbane intensive care burns unit.
They gathered with Hannah’s brother, Nat, his wife, Stacey, and Hannah’s best friend Nikki Brooks to say goodbye.
Nat had flown in from a work site with the group waiting for him to arrive before turning off Hannah’s life support machine.
‘Mum told me to hold her hand, but I couldn’t because I somehow thought if I touched her burns I might hurt her,’ Nat said.
‘Silly isn’t it? But I just didn’t want her to hurt any more.’
The family couldn’t hug her goodbye because they didn’t want Hannah to suffer through any more pain, and Lloyd was pacing around the room angry and swearing about what Baxter had done.
But when he looked at his daughter, who was covered up to her neck with a sheet, he decided Hannah did not need more anger in her final moments.
‘So I told her that I loved her, that she was my little girl, and that I was so sorry I hadn’t been able to protect her,’ Lloyd said.
Suzanne stood close to her daughter, trying not to hurt her, and kissed the top of her head.
She told her daughter that she loved her and she had been very brave, but it was time to return to her babies.
The heartbroken parents have lifted the lid on the ‘red flags’ they saw as they issued a grim warning about how domestic violence can happen to anyone – no matter how wealthy you are where you live.
The Clarkes spoke in detail in the hope that no one else will have to suffer in the same way Hannah did.
Suzanne said the ‘red flags’ in Hannah’s husband had been ‘gradual’ and started with ‘little things’.
Baxter had taken over Hannah’s Facebook and she was not allowed to wear short or bikinis, Sue revealed in a video on The Courier Mail.
The grandmother didn’t think too much of it at first. She thought a shared Facebook would make sense as the couple posted the same pictures and in terms of the bikinis, she simply thought Baxter was a bit of a ‘prude’.
At this time, Baxter was a ‘nice’ addition to the family, who they got on well with. He would share a beer on a Friday afternoon with Lloyd and the family would enjoy Thai takeaway over a weekend.
But Suzanne said Baxter’s behaviour gradually became more obsessive and possessive.
‘He would go through her phone, he would check phone calls. Certain clothes she couldn’t wear. He tried to control everything,’ she said.
The Clarkes believe that anyone who begins to notice red flags should speak up and seek professional help through domestic violence services.
Lloyd said the family tried to speak with Baxter about his increasingly controlling behaviour but to no avail.
‘We had a few mini-interventions. We went over there, we tried to talk to him about it. ”You need help, you need to see someone” but that sort of fell on the wayside a bit and seemed to make him angrier,’ Lloyd said.
Before Hannah was murdered by Baxter, the 31-year-old and her three children had moved back in with her parents.
The heartbroken parents described their daughter a strong and committed mother whose smile would always light up a room .
Lloyd said Hannah always put other people first. He said very few knew about her struggles at home because she would always put on a brave face.
In one final courageous gesture, Hannah used her last moments alive to give police a detailed account about Baxter and his horrific abuse.
Despite suffering burns to most of her body, Hannah walked herself to a stretcher, while recounting the shocking events that had transpired.
She passed out on her way to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital but awoke in ICU, where she told the story of Baxter’s attack again.
Lloyd said his daughter wanted the ‘monster’ to be caught for the murders and likely didn’t know he had died.
Hannah and the kids were killed on February 19 when Baxter hid in the front garden of her parent’s place in Camp Hill, where she and the kids were living, and ambushed them as she drove the children to school and daycare.
The children died in the car while Hannah managed to free herself but died later in hospital. Baxter died at the scene from self-inflicted knife wounds.
The attack that killed Hannah and her family has sparked calls for greater efforts to bring an end to domestic violence.
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