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Father planned son's murder, 'suicide by cop'

Last updated 15:59 13/02/2014
Luke Batty
MURDERED: Luke Batty.

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Australia

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The Australian man who bashed his 11-year-old son to death with a cricket bat at Tyabb before being fatally shot by police had a history of family violence and was the subject of an intervention order to keep away from the family home.

But the order allowed him to visit his son, Luke Batty, at the Bunguyan Reserve sports oval where the Year 6 student played cricket.

The interim police investigation indicates the man had a premeditated plan to kill his son and then commit "suicide by cop".

The man, Greg, known for his violent temper and vindictive nature, was seen on Wednesday night bowling balls to Luke as junior practice was winding down and the rest of the group were packing up.

Witnesses told police the man then struck his son to the head with a bat. It is believed the blow was fatal.

Police suspect it was a deliberate plan and he was waiting until the boy was separated from adults before he acted. There were no initial indications of an argument or dispute before the attack.

After the boy collapsed the man is believed to have attacked the boy with a knife.

When local uniformed police arrived they ordered the man to drop his knife. The 54-year-old refused and moved towards them.

Independent witnesses, including ambulance officers, called to try and save the boy, said police. They sprayed the man with capsicum spray and retreated to keep a distance between them and the offender. Then they shot him.

"He was chasing them," one witness told police.

The 54-year-old Chelsea Heights man was taken to The Alfred hospital, where he died at 1.30am.

Police were checking a caravan where he lived looking for clues to piece together what happened before the murder.

Luke Batty was his mother's "life", says Gill Metzen, who cared for Luke at the Tyabb Child Care centre for more than three years before he went to school.

"Luke was her life. You would be when you have someone later in life, you cherish every moment and now her whole life's gone, " said Ms Metzen.

Ms Metzen wanted to pay tribute to a boy who she said would be sorely missed by many children in the tight-knit community of Tyabb on the Mornington Peninsula.

"It's been very sad and very tragic. He is going to be missed as his mum has so many friends and they've all got kids and they're associated with him, it's very hard," she said.

"He's only a young little thing but he had a good personality, he was a good kid and Rosie would do anything for him, it was just beautiful."

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But Ms Metzen said the boy's father had been a long-standing problem in Luke's life and the parents had been estranged when Luke attended the centre.

"There were always issues," she said.

She said she believed Luke's father had been homeless, living in his car at times, and that she suspected Luke's mother had feared he would one day hurt her.

"[She probably] never thought he was going to hurt Luke, being his pride and joy," Ms Metzen said.

Ms Metzen said Luke had played cricket, football and basketball and that Ms Batty is active in the local community.

Originally from the UK, she runs a Stufflers franchise that allows children at birthday parties to stuff their own teddy bears.

Luke's Instagram page features a smiling young boy and a Christmas message to his mum. But two months ago he also posted: "Have you ever loved someone but they treat you like crap?"

Flinders Christian Community College's executive principal Jill Healey said the loss was a devastating blow to the Tyabb community.

"The loss of any child is just devastating; there's great grief around the campus today," she said.

Ms Healey said the school is providing chaplains and counsellors to shocked and grieving students, "and we're also receiving support from other churches and school communities".

Tyabb campus principal Maxwell Cuddon said Luke was a "sporty kid who was well-connected to his classmates".

"He loved life, and used to throw himself into anything that came his way.

"This is very hard, for all of us," he said.

Mr Cuddon said it's been challenging to have to tell students of their classmate's death, and to see the students' grief.

"[Luke was] part of a special [class] made up of grades four, five and six... so we're taking care to look after them," he said.

On Thursday morning the school's Australian flag was flying at half mast in Luke's honour.

Luke was also a member of the Tyabb Scouts, and Scouts Victoria chief commissioner Brendan Watson issued a statement on Thursday morning detailing the organisation's distress at his death.

"Scouts Victoria is shocked and saddened to learn of the death of one of our young members," Mr Watson said.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends," he said.

"We are providing support to the Scout Group where Luke was a member."

Wayne Carter, the boy's former cub leader at 1st Tyabb Scout Group, said the boy was an enthusiastic and determined member of the scouting club and would be deeply missed.

"He was an individual. He had his own way of doing things but he was outgoing, he would give anything a try even if it didn't quite work the first time," Mr Carter told Fairfax Radio.

"He was always willing to help," he said.

"He was just everywhere. He went to everything, he was a major part of the group... He embraced everything he did with gusto."

- FFX Aus

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