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(NEW SOUTH WALES) NSW Coroners Report: Highlights shortcomings in police responses to domestic violence calls at an inquest into the murder of a young woman by her child’s father in 2019, who was later shot dead by police #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.02: Their relationship was described as “toxic” and “violent” from the outset before it came to a tragic end in Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney, in March 2019:

NSW coroner delivers findings on deaths of Gabriella Thompson and Tafari Walton: Gabriella Thompson was stabbed 16 times by Tafari Walton, the father of her daughter, after suffering years of domestic violence:

Posted Yesterday at 9:21am

A woman holding a baby
ABC News: Gabriella Thompson pictured with daughter, Zali.(Supplied: Georgie Thompson)

Walton murdered the 27-year-old mother at her home in Glendale while on parole, before going on a drug-fuelled crime spree that ended in him being shot dead by police the next day. 

Handing down her findings at the inquest into both deaths, Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan recommended that police officers “should attend and talk to” possible victims of domestic violence “unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so”.

The inquest heard Walton provoked and threatened officers with a knife, an action counsel assisting the inquest concluded was intended to force police to end his life.

Grave headstone with flowers
Gabriella Thompson was buried with her father George at Whitebridge Cemetery.(ABC Newcastle: Madeline Lewis)

Long history of violence

A man wearing a high-viz shirt
Tafari Walton was shot dead by police at Glendale near Newcastle on March 13, 2019.

Walton had been in custody on the Mid North Coast since 2016 after Ms Thompson told police that he had abused her and threatened to kill both her and their daughter.

He had also been involved in a 90-minute siege after escaping from hospital custody and in 2018 was charged with the non-life-threatening stabbing of another inmate.

He was ultimately granted parole for his prior offences and strict conditional bail over the stabbing.

The inquest heard in January that Walton had admitted to taking MDMA and smoking ice shortly after his release, which was a breach of his bail conditions.

Coroner identifies four areas for change 

Magistrate O’Sullivan recommended the NSW Police Commissioner consider implementing policy changes to ensure officers visited alleged victims every time suspected domestic violence was reported. 

Four women with their arms around each other outside a court house.
Gabriella Thompson’s sister Georgie Thompson, friend Carly Cooper, mother Pam Cashman and sister Beck Ryan at the final day of the inquest.(ABC Newcastle: Madeline Lewis)

Hours before Ms Thompson’s death, a friend called police worried about her welfare but the call was not listed as a potential domestic violence incident. 

Magistrate O’Sullivan also recommended further training and guidance for officers faced with people intending to use police officers for the purposes of self-harm.

Two recommendations were delivered to the Commissioner of Corrective Services proposing the manual be changed to identify circumstances when a breach of bail should be reported to police, particularly when it presents a risk to the community. 

Further guidance on when drug testing should be required when an offender has admitted drug use was also recommended. 

In closing the inquest, Magistrate O’Sullivan lamented it was a “tragic death of two young people”. 

“I was very moved by what each family said about their love and their loss.”

Both families attended the Coroner’s Court in Lidcombe to hear the findings. 

The couple’s five-year-old daughter, Zali, is now in the care of Ms Thompson’s family. 

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: May.02: 2021:

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