Inaction on threats questioned

16:00, Jan 20 2014
Edward Livingstone
KILLER: Edward Livingstone shot his two children.

A law expert is questioning why courts seemed unaware Dunedin double murderer Edward Livingstone had previously threatened to kill.

Livingstone, 51, shot and killed his children Bradley, 9, and Ellen, 6, while they slept in their St Leonards home last Wednesday night.

He had talked about killing the children's mother, his ex-wife Katharine Webb, and threatened to burn her house down in August last year. He then twice breached a protection order.

Bradley and Ellen Livingstone
TRAGIC LOSS: Bradley and Ellen Livingstone's "cheeky grins, huge cuddles, constant singing and sense of mischief" would be missed, their grieving family said.

The courts documented his breaches as minor and he escaped jail time.

Webb's neighbour, Mel Foot, said she laid a complaint with police at the time Livingstone made the threats. It was never followed up, she said.

University of Otago law faculty head Mark Henaghan said "behind the scenes" prosecutors and some police personnel had expressed concerns to him about government directives to police to save resources by not prosecuting 50 per cent of cases.


He gave an example of the recent revelations police had not followed up a complaint by a 14-year-old girl in the Roast Busters case - where a group of young Auckland men bragged online about having group sex with underage teenage girls. "You get the sense it seems to me it's a crucial issue - if police are told only to respond in certain scenarios."

Henaghan questioned whether police followed up Foot's complaint. The courts would have been informed of Livingstone's history and his "level of dangerousness" if they had, he said.

"There seems to be other evidence here that was definitely not reported to the court or it would have done a lot more," Henaghan said.

How the courts dealt with Livingstone's breaches would have been a "whole different ball game".

Dunedin-Clutha-Waitaki  district commander Inspector Greg Sparrow declined to comment on issues raised by Henaghan.

Police met Foot on Friday to discuss and listen to her concerns, he said.

"Police are looking into the matters she has raised as part of our wider investigation."

Police yesterday revealed they had found out where Livingstone got the gun he used to kill his children.

Sparrow would not be drawn on whether Livingstone was given the shotgun, or was able to buy it, or what calibre it was.

The investigation was likely to continue for "a number of weeks", he said.

A funeral for the two dead children will be held at St George's Hall at St Leonards on Saturday.

In a notice published in the Otago Daily Times yesterday, grieving family described the pair as "colourful and delightful children".

''The notice asked mourners to give donations to Women's Refuge instead of flowers. A notice from staff at St Leonards School said the children's "cheeky grins, huge cuddles, constant singing and sense of mischief" would be missed.

"Bradley, you were the protector. You were always looking out for Ellen and were an amazing big brother. You have a gentle, caring soul and we will miss you dearly," the notice read.

"Ellen, your infectious grin and beautiful singing would fill the room and make us smile. Your fashion sense and hair styles were like no other and you will never be forgotten."

Fairfax Media