Heartbreak at Lockhart

11 Sep, 2014 07:54 AM
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3
 
There are little hearts breaking all over the place

INSIDE a small white house, surrounded by bright yellow fields of canola, police found a short, scribbled note.

But the piece of paper did not explain why a father is believed to have shot his wife and three children dead before turning a gun on himself on their Riverina property near Wagga Wagga.

It was no more than a sentence or two.

Geoff Hunt and his family celebrated a relative's birthday on Saturday and went to a local football game on Sunday, before his children were dropped at school for the last time on Monday.

Only 74 students attend St Joseph's School so when the Hunt children failed to turn up on Tuesday, it was noticed.

Later that day the bodies of Kim Hunt, 41, and her three children Fletcher, 10, Mia, eight, and Phoebe, six, were found on the family's "Watch Hill" property near the close-knit town of Lockhart.


If you are in an emergency or life is in danger call 000 immediately. Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467, Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.


Mrs Hunt, a much-loved nurse, was found dead on a path behind the house, not far from the Hills Hoist, which on Wednesday still had the family's clothes pegged to it.

Her children were found a few metres away inside their home.

After Mr Hunt left his family behind, the grain farmer got into an old white ute and drove down a dirt driveway.

It appeared as though he drove several hundred metres before he steered towards a paddock of wheat about half-a-metre high.

A thick set of tyre marks cut a clear track across the wheat crop and lead directly to the dam where Mr Hunt's ute was found abandoned.

On Wednesday afternoon police divers recovered what is believed to his body.

Although a formal autopsy had not been done it appears as though he walked into the water and shot himself. A gun was found close to the body.

Police said it appeared as though the body had been in the muddied water for about 30 hours.

Homicide detectives have taken charge of the investigation which was being treated as a murder-suicide.

At another dam, 18 months ago, Mr Hunt's daughter Mia took a stunning photo of a large flock of ducks taking off from a pond about 18 months ago.

Her grandmother and Geoff's mother Lynette proudly sent her photo to The Land.

The family had enjoyed many a happy memory on the Boree Creek Road property which appeared to be a children's wonderland.

A white van carrying the body drove past a motorbike track, a horse arena with two grey ponies and the fibro house that featured a delicately trimmed bush maze behind it.

It was a tragic end for a family who had overcome so much adversity.

A family in recovery

A family friend said Mr Hunt had been a pillar of support for his wife as she recovered from serious injuries when her car flipped twice on Boree Creek Road in 2012.

Their daughter Phoebe, aged four at the time, was also in the vehicle but suffered only minor injuries.

But Mrs Hunt was left with a broken neck, seven weeks of post-traumatic amnesia and a brain injury.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District acting director of operations Ken Hampson said the hospital community was devastated, particularly the Wagga and Urana health communities where Mrs Hunt had worked in the past.

"It's a tight community," he said.

"She had a significant career as an intensive care nurse and worked for a long time in the intensive care unit in Wagga until her car accident in 2012," Mr Hampson said.

"Getting back to work was one of her goals and she returned to the Lockhart Multipurpose Service earlier this year.

"She took on the position of clinical nurse educator, which was good for her, good for the staff and Lockhart, bringing that wealth of experience."

Mr Hampson said Mrs Hunt worked in a part-time capacity as she gradually returned to work following her accident.

'Little hearts breaking all over the place'

Wagga Wagga police commander Superintendent Bob Noble said police had no idea as to what had prompted the bloody family tragedy.

"Clearly something wasn't right," Superintendent Noble said shortly after a body was pulled from the water.

"These things don't make sense in the world and sometimes trying to make sense of them is futile," he said.

Lockhart farmer and chairman of St Joseph's School council Trent Gooden said the community was in shock.

"They were a beautiful family," Mr Gooden said.

"A lot of kids turned up to school today, but understandably the town is struggling."

"It's a massive shock to the system, we just can't believe it's happened."

Superintendent Noble said the small community of Lockhart was suffering badly, as were the students at St Joseph's where counselling has been offered.

"There are little hearts breaking all over the place," he said.

Big hearts were breaking too - including Kim Hunt's parents who heard their daughter and three grandchildren had died whilst travelling in the Northern Territory.

Superintendent Noble said police were preparing a report for the coroner but detectives were not looking at any other persons of interest.

"We have five deceased people [and] we believe they were all members of the same family. There is nothing to lend us to believe that there are any other persons of interest," he said.

- with Simone Norrie and Cara Jeffery, The Land.

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READER COMMENTS

Freshy
11/09/2014 10:27:05 AM

an old white ute? From the photos on the media it was a fairly new Colorado This is such a heartbreaking story, I hope strictly the truth is reported....and it would appear SMH have started with not exact facts For the sake of the community and wider family stick to the spot on facts
Bushie Bill
11/09/2014 6:27:19 PM

Whether it is an old white ute or a fairly new Colorado is immaterial. You have decided to concentrate on a minor detail to avoid concentrating on the bigger far more important issues involved, Freshy. Certainly let's concentrate on the truth. That involves not allowing ourselves to be distracted by irrelevant minor details. Don't get bogged down with matters, true or not, that do not matter. If there are any lessons to come from this, it will not hinge on the details of a vehicle.
Freshy
12/09/2014 5:24:37 PM

I know its immaterial, the point I was trying to make is that its critically important the the truth is reported here, and a small misrepresentation can end up being a big one through a series of small misrepresentations

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