Policewoman cries in court over murdered children

Jason Headland killed his children Andreas Headland, 3, and five-year-old Zaraiyah-Lily. Picture: Facebook
Jason Headland killed his children Andreas Headland, 3, and five-year-old Zaraiyah-Lily. Picture: Facebook

A POLICEWOMAN on duty when a Perth father murdered his two young children has wept in court while expressing sympathy for the mother who had alerted officers to her concerns hours before the tragedy.

Jason Craig Headland is serving a life sentence with a minimum of 31 years after he pleaded guilty to murdering five-year-old Zaraiyah-Lily Headland and three-year-old Andreas Headland at a Yanchep home on October 20, 2016.

The West Australian Coroners Court is now examining the actions of police immediately before the deaths, including the hours it took to send officers to do a welfare check after the children’s mother Anatoria Takiwa told them about her estranged partner’s threatening phone call.

In the call, he said: “I’m going to hurt you … I’m going to break your heart into 50 million pieces. Say goodbye to your kids. This is the last time you’re going to speak to them.”

Reading a statement on behalf of herself and her colleagues, Senior Constable Christine Darlington became emotional and wiped tears from her face, as Ms Takiwa also wept.

“We’d like to extend our sincerest condolences for the tragic loss of your beautiful children,” the officer said on Wednesday.

“We joined police to save lives and make a difference. On the rare occasion, we are unable to do that.

“We too carry that burden every day. Please accept our deepest sympathy for your loss.”

Sen Const Darlington, who was an acting sergeant in the District Control Centre at the time, asked a recruit and a sergeant to get more information from Ms Takiwa about the situation.

At that stage, police did not even have an address to dispatch a vehicle to, she said.

Sen Const Darlington said there was no history of domestic violence reported and agreed with Coroner Sarah Linton’s suggestion that police could not just assume the worst case scenario.

As tragic as the outcome was, police acted properly in conducting their enquiries and did everything they could, she said.

Earlier, grandmother Lois May testified that when police contacted her partner Douglas Headland to ask if he knew the whereabouts of the children, she did not initially get a sense of urgency.

She also said they had rehashed that night over and over in their hearts and minds.

The inquest continues.