Two weeks ago, Kelly Wilkinson was doused in petrol and burned to death in the backyard of her Gold Coast home. Wilkinson’s estranged partner has since been charged with her murder and breaching a domestic violence order.
Wilkinson’s sister, Danielle Carroll, has now told the ABC’s 7.30 program that the mother of three was in contact with police and support services daily in the weeks before her death.
“I know she was in contact with somebody daily and making statements nearly every second day, just going to the station,” Danielle Carroll told 7.30.
“I’ve just been saying to people if I could paint a picture, she was just screaming and there’s someone standing next to her just giving no response.”
Wilkinson’s family have also talked to the Gold Coast Bulletin, saying the 27-year-old had sought out help from police regularly since she first made a domestic violence complaint in late March. They said she made it clear she was scared for her and her children’s lives.
Queensland Police have also confirmed that Wilkinson had gone to local police stations at least twice before she was allegedly murdered by her estranged partner.
Brian Earl Johnston was released on bail just over a week before he allegedly set Wilkinson on fire in her backyard. He had previously been charged with a number of serious offences.
“That’s when she was really getting into police contact daily and just asking, screaming for that help,” Danielle Carrol told 7.30.
“If their hands were tied for him, why was there no safeguard for her? She was never offered a safe house, she was never offered some sort of security, she was basically left to fend on her own.”
Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd, who heads up Queensland Police’s newly established domestic violence task force, said that the system failed to prevent the tragedy was “a failure”.
“It’s important that we examine to what extent it is a systemic failure,” Codd told reporters at the time. “Ultimately, it’s a failure. A woman has died. Somewhere along the line, she had engaged with the system, with us.”
Speaking to 7.30, Codd said that the police did provide Wilkinson with assistance, but he is open to investigations into what exactly had occurred.
“The system has let her down and failed her because she came to us seeking assistance, and we did provide her with assistance,” he said. “We immediately responded to her needs, and immediately implemented a police protection notice.”
“She did reach out to us to express some concerns about potential breaches … that were related to contact being made with her by phone, [but] the determination by the investigating police was it didn’t meet the threshold warranting prosecution for a breach.”
Wilkinson’s body was found by police on April 20 after they were contacted by neighbours who reported a disturbance. They found her body in what was described as a “very confronting scene”.
Wilkinson’s three children, who were on the property when their mother was burned, are safe and being cared for by their aunt and uncle, Danielle and Reece Carroll. The couple have five children of their own.
The family of Kelly Wilkinson have established a GoFundMe page to support her children who have been left without their mother.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.
In an emergency, call 000.
Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636.