Shocking murders bring crackdown on domestic violence

THE murder of Kris-Deann Sharpley and her son Jackson at the hands of a family member in Biddeston sent shockwaves through the Darling Downs region in March.

Six months later, the public execution of a young mother in a McDonald's car park on the Gold Coast brought the shock back to the front of people's minds.

The deaths are just three of the 10 domestic violence related murders across Queensland, and an alarming number of the 28 confirmed or suspected cases in Australia, since January.

The tragedies have gone some way to compelling the state and federal governments to introduce stronger laws to fight the disturbing crimes, largely done behind closed doors of family homes.

"I think we've had some recent high profile cases and certainly a lot of media attention, and the Gold Coast is a high profile example that had the shock factor to the public," Toowoomba City Patrol Group Acting Inspector Regan Draheim said.

"When you have someone seemingly executed in a public place, at a McDonald's - a family restaurant - these people, who were obviously subject to domestic violence orders, it goes to show sometimes how difficult it is for us, from a policing point of view, to stop these types of offences occurring."

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Act. Insp. Draheim said current legislation allowed for police to make arrests and investigate domestic and family violence offences, but a more holistic approach to the issue was needed to reach success.

"To say there's not something else that can't be introduced to that legislation is not for me to say," he said.

"The legislation can only do so much, police can only do so much, and public awareness is obviously a good thing.

"If we can push some people towards breaking that cycle (of domestic violence) then that is the best we can hope for."

He said any additional tools or guidelines developed and enforced that allowed police to combat domestic violence would be welcomed by front-line officers.

"Currently the legislation allows us to take action against the perpetrator of domestic violence and we need to continue to do that with the tools we are given," Act. Insp. Draheim said.

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