A “fateful note” found near the scene of the accident proved pivotal in police investigations into the death of a Queensland mother and her four children, according to an inquest.
Charmaine Harris McLeod and her four children Aaleyn, 6, Matilda, 5, Wyatt, 4, and Zaidok, 2, died on May 27, 2019 when their small SUV was involved in a head-on collision with a truck on Bunya Highway Kingaroy north west of Brisbane.
The inquest opened in Brisbane on Wednesday before coroner Kerrie O’Callaghan.
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In her opening remarks on the investigation, Kylie Hillard’s attorney said police witnesses would testify as to the circumstances of the accident and whether any of the occupants of the car could have been saved.
Hillard said police found a handwritten note in McLeod’s purse at the scene of the accident.
“In the note, she indicated she was overwhelmed and sought help,” Hillard said.
“It was a fateful note, which investigators were fortunate to find given the condition of the car.
She said McLeod had a long history of mental health issues dating back to 2009, but her death and the deaths of her children could not be attributed to “simple suicide.”
The inquiry will also examine the appropriateness of police responses to complaints of domestic and family violence within the McLeod family, as well as the responses of the health care system surrounding McLeod’s care and the responses of child protection agencies.
The first witness, Senior Constable James McKinley, testified that speed or a collision with an animal did not appear to have been factors in the accident, but both vehicles were traveling at 100 km/h resulting in a “significant impact”. .
McKinley said he found McLeod’s note in a pink purse about 5 meters from their crashed vehicle after realizing there was nothing more the emergency services could do to help the occupants inside.
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