Dunedin child killings highlight partner violence and filicide links

Fri 17 Jan 2014

Grief and support are being expressed following the murder of two children by their father in Dunedin. The case has highlighted the link between ...

Grief and support are being expressed following the murder of two children by their father in Dunedin.

The case has highlighted the link between intimate partner violence and filicide (the killing of children by a parent) after separation.

Edward Livingstone was estranged from his wife Katharine Webb. He had been charged with breaching the Protection Order she had taken out against him twice.

Media reported that Edward Livingstone told a friend in August 2013 that he was planning to murder his children then kill himself as he became "consumed with revenge" after the separation. Media reported that a complaint was laid with Police, but the complainant was never interviewed and Police didn’t follow up.

A friend said, "The kids were Katharine's life - they were the centre of her universe - and he knew that killing them was the worst thing he could do to her, and that's why he did it."

Media also reported Livingstone had chased his wife around the streets in his car, and that Webb was so scared of him she had installed an alarm by her bed so she could alert neighbours if she was in danger.

Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Heather Henare called for a stronger response to breaches of Protection Orders: "We need to concentrate on the fact that there is a link between breaches of protection orders and domestic violence murders in this country".

In December 2013, a report by the Independent Police Complaints Authority found that Police responses to complaints of Protection Order breaches by a Northland woman who was subsequently killed were "poorly managed and grossly inadequate".

Domestic abuse charity Shine spokesperson Jill Proudfoot called for law changes to better protect children where there is violence between their parents.

This page is being updated and media links added (below) as they become available.

Relevant research:

Family Violence Death Review Committee. (2013). Third Annual Report: December 2011 to December 2012. Wellington: Health Quality & Safety Commission.

“During 2009 and 2010, there were a total of 22 family violence and family violence related deaths of children ... All three of the children aged over five, died in a murder-suicide that occurred as the parents were separating. This suggests these deaths were IPV [intimate partner violence] related.” (p.46)

Kirkwood, D. (2012). ‘Just Say Goodbye’: Parents who kill their children in the context of separation. Discussion Paper no.8, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Australia.

"This Discussion Paper examines the motives and background to ‘filicide’— the killing of children by a parent. While these deaths are often described in the media as ‘inexplicable’, this new research identifies a link between the killing of children and violence against women. The paper considers international research, Australian Institute of Criminology data and case examples of both fathers and mothers who kill their children.”

Martin, J, Pritchard, R. (2010). Learning from tragedy: Homicide within families in New Zealand 2002-2006. Wellington: Centre for Social Research and Evaluation, Ministry of Social Development.

"This report provides the first complete picture of homicide within families in New Zealand. It found that there were 141 homicides perpetrated by a member of the victim's family, intimate partner or ex-partner in New Zealand between 2002 and 2006 and that: of the 141 deaths, 77 were couple-related homicides, 38 were child homicides and 26 were other family member homicides...”

The report states, “Eight children whose deaths are reported in the following chapter were killed by their father in the context of relationship distress and dispute between the adults. While the children were the victims, the other parent appears to have been the main target. In three of these events the perpetrator also committed suicide.” (p.36)

Robertson N, Busch R, D'Souza R, et al. (2007). Living at the cutting edge: Women's experience of Protection Orders: Volume 1: The women's stories.


Robertson N, Busch R, D'Souza R, et al. (2007). Living at the cutting edge: Women's experience of Protection Orders: Volume 2: What's To Be Done? A Critical Analysis of Statutory and Practice Approaches to Domestic Violence.

"This report examines the experiences of 43 Māori, Pakeha, Pasifika and other ethnic minority women who were victims of male partner violence, the impact of the violence on them and their children, and their experiences of the justice system when they reached out for protection.”


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Mother's touching tribute to children, Otago Daily Times, 15.01.14

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School plans private memorial for slain pupils, Stuff, 17.12.14

'Forever in our hearts', Stuff, 30.09.14

Family of killer to hold service, Stuff, 20.03.14

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In the end, revenge all that mattered, NZ Herald, 25.02.14

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Insurance cancelled before Dunedin man killed his kids, NewstalkZB, 24.02.14

Paul Little: Law change won't stop violence, NZ Herald, 23.02.14

St Leonards auction draws to a close, TV One, 05.02.14

Riders claim back the happy times, Otago Daily Times, 03.02.14

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Smiles, tears for Bradley and Ellen, Otago Daily Times, 27.01.14

St Leonards farewells 'beautiful children', Otago daily Times, 25.01.14

Mother 'just so thankful' for support, NZ Herald, 23.01.14

The Professor, Police & Public Criticise Protection Orders, LawFuel, 22.01.14

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Domestic Violence Act concerns, Otago Daily Times, 22.01.14

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Slain children their mother's pride and joy, Stuff, 22.01.14

Labour 'point scoring' over Dunedin tragedy , Stuff, 21.01.14

The system fails the Livingstones - Leonie Morris, Voxy, 21.01.14

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Man in shooting had mental health problems, Radio NZ, 17.01.14

Children's killer had secret key, The Press, 17.01.14

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Dunedin shooting: Neighbour ran to house but kids already dead, NZ Herald, 17.01.14

Protection orders no saviour, experts say, Stuff, 16.01.14

Murder of family members 'all too common', Voxy, 16.01.14

Domestic violence organisation reacts to Dunedin shooting, Voxy, 16.01.14

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Calls for tougher law enforcement after children's murders, One News, 16.01.14

Two children killed after protection orders ignored in Dunedin – Audio, RadioLive, 16.01.14

Dunedin Shooting: Police press conference, NZ Herald, 16.01.14


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