Staff at the NSW Firearms Registry should be charged with manslaughter after approving a pistol licence for child killer John Edwards, says the SFFP’s Robert Borsak.
Mr Borsak has told Minister for Police Paul Toole that Registry staff failed in their duty of care, lacked due diligence and acted in ways that “directly” contributed to the shooting deaths in 2018 of Jack and Jennifer Edwards by their father.
He alleges the Registry staff’s actions displayed “criminal negligence and merit criminal punishment for the offence of manslaughter”.
He wants the matter referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions on the basis that available evidence suggests the Registry staff’s actions or omissions fall within the guidelines for proving ‘manslaughter by criminal negligence’.
These include, among other things, that the staff failed in their duty of care to the Edwards children by failing to properly assess John Edwards’ application for a pistol licence; that their actions “fell so far short of the standard of care which a reasonable person would have exercised”; and that their actions involved “a high risk of death”.
The evidence was reported in a Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths, which concluded that the murders were preventable.
Edwards should not have been approved to have a firearms licence, given his background, which was available to registry staff through a number of systems, including the Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS) .
Edwards had a recorded history of domestic violence but the Coroner found that the “process followed by registry staff … led to a failure to review and take into account that information”.
As a result, he was able to legally purchase two handguns, which he used to kill his children.
Borsak has also asked that Minister Toole investigate “discrepancies” between the coroner’s finding and a briefing note given by Registry staff to the Commissioner of Police soon after the murders in 2018.
In the briefing note, the Registry effectively absolved itself of any blame, saying staff had conducted a “thorough review” into Edwards when assessing his application for a pistol licence and that they found no legislative reason to refuse it.
Borsak wants light shed on the Registry’s review of its actions, “given the subsequent findings by the NSW Coroner that Edwards’ COPS holdings were not reviewed”.
“Someone has got to be lying,” he said in a recent Budget Estimates hearing.