Man in apparent murder-suicide named

WILMA MCCORKINDALE, KATIE KENNY, BLAIR ENSOR AND TOM HUNT
Last updated 18:08 16/01/2014
Fairfax NZ

Footage at the scene of the apparent murder-suicide in Dunedin.

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IAIN MCGREGOR / Fairfax NZ Zoom
A young boy lays flowers by the house in Dunedin where two children and a man were killed in apparent murder-suicide.

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A neighbour says he is struggling to come to come to grips with what happened in the Dunedin house across the road, where two children were slain and a man found dead last night.

Edward Livingstone is suspected of fatally shooting his children, Bradley, 9, and Ellen, 6, at their home in the suburb of St Leonards.

Livingstone, 51, a Corrections worker, was found dead at the scene.

Police have launched a homicide investigation and said they were not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident.

The neighbour, who declined to be named, said he heard sounds but at first didn't realise what was going.

"Just the screaming. I thought it was a dog," he said. "It was pretty loud."

Then he heard a next-door neighbour confront Livingstone in an attempt to defuse the situation.

"He said, 'put the gun down, mate, don't point that at me'."

A short time later a single gunshot rang out and he called police.

"It was silent from there. It's terrible really."

It took police nearly an hour to arrive after he called for help, he said.

"If he'd [Livingstone] gone on a rampage around here there would be a hell of a lot more bodies."

'FINAL WARNING'

Livingstone told Corrections twice last year that he had breached orders of protection, and had been given a final warning, officials say.

He began working at Otago Prison in November 2007 as an administration support officer. The job involved logging details of prisoners.

Jeremy Lightfoot, chief executive of the Department of Corrections, said Corrections was made aware Livingstone was going through "personal difficulties with his relationship" in July-August last year.

He was offered counselling and days off work.

Livingstone told Corrections in early August he had breached a protection order and took "special leave".

He returned to work a few weeks later and was offered support, Lightfoot said.

In September, Livingstone again told Corrections he had breached a protection order.

He was suspended for three weeks before returning to work in October.

The same month he was discharged without conviction for both offences.

Corrections issued him with a final warning after an internal employment investigation.

Just before Christmas, Otago Prison prison manager Jack Harrison spoke to Livingstone who "gave him the impression he was starting to get his life back on to a better level". Livingstone told Harrison he had started a new relationship with a woman who was not his estranged wife.

That was the last communication the pair had.

"It's a tragic event," Lightfoot said. "Everyone is shocked and saddened.

"As far as the department is concerned it doesn't appear we could have done much more in these circumstances.

"I'm pleased we have been seen to be acting as responsible employers."

Meanwhile, those who knew the victims have begun leaving flowers outside the scene in Kiwi St.

"It's just real sad," a man said, wiping tears from his eyes.

COMMUNITY GRIEVES

Meanwhile, the friends of two children arrived at their community school to share their grief.

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St Leonard's School principal Jo Wilson said the tight-knit school community was struggling to come to grips with the shooting, which happened only a few blocks away.

"We are all really upset. Because it's such a small school we are all family," Wilson said.

The Ministry of Education trauma team had visited the 68-pupil school and offered support.

Parents and their children had been invited to gather at the school to grieve and come to terms with what had happened, she said

"If they need to they can talk and if they don't they can sit. It's just being together more than anything else."

Wilson would talk to the slain children's mother about a way of remembering the children, but "we haven't got that far yet".

Chalmers Community Board chairman Steve Walker said the school would become a centre for community support.

"The tragedy is magnified because we live in – ironically – such a safe community," Walker said.

HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION

An emergency call was made at 9.55pm yesterday after neighbours heard gunshots from the house and the armed offenders squad was sent to the address.

A neighbour who tried to save the children attempted to wrestle a gun off Livingstone.

The neighbour went to the house after the children's mother, Katharine Livingstone, ran next door for safety.

Katharine Livingstone, had been "terrified" of her estranged husband, a neighbour said.

Inspector Greg Sparrow described the case as absolutely tragic, and said the investigation would be lengthy.

About 15 police and ESR staff are working on the investigation. A forensic examination of the scene was under way.

Sparrow said Katharine Livingstone was staying with family in Dunedin.

THREATS OF VIOLENCE

Neighbours told reporters police had been to the house before after threats of violence had been made by Livingstone.

Police said the man had breached protection orders twice because of contact by phone last August and September. He had been arrested and had appeared in court.

The wife of the neighbour who tried to wrestle the gun off the man said the deaths were "devastating" and "horrific", and unexpected in the quiet harbourside suburb.

"It's a huge thing and we're trying to get our heads around it," she said.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said he was "appalled" at the deaths.

"The children are gone but the family left behind, they are the ones that will be in pain," he said

Women's Refuge said the tragedy was a reminder of how much more needed to be done to address domestic and family violence.

"We need to concentrate on the fact that there is a link between breaches of protection orders and domestic violence murders in this country," chief executive Heather Henare said.

"This man had a violent track record, two breaches of a protection order and all breaches of protection orders should be treated with the full force of our law.

"This tragic incident is the worst kind of wake-up call for this country around the severity and frequency of domestic and family violence in our communities."


- Stuff

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