‘Hard-nosed bitch’: Slur claim on mum whose kids were killed
Olga Edwards, the mother of two teenagers later murdered by their father, was labelled a "hard-nosed bitch" by the independent lawyer appointed to act for her children in family court proceedings, an inquest has heard.
The comment was allegedly made by independent children's lawyer Debbie Morton to a psychologist who was also involved in the custody dispute as the two spoke in mid-2017, the inquest heard.
Jack, 15, and Jennifer, 13, were killed by their father John Edwards in a brutal murder-suicide that shocked the nation on July 5, 2018.
Olga was shattered with grief and took her own life five months later.
The murders were committed in the wake of a bitter custody dispute involving numerous allegations of Edwards assaulting his children.
The proceedings began in April 2016 and Olga won full custody on Valentine's Day in 2018.
On Wednesday a psychologist who saw all four members of the Edwards family from April 2017 gave evidence at an inquest before state coroner Teresa O'Sullivan. Her name has been suppressed by the court.
She told the court that on June 13 2017 Ms Morton had said to her Olga "presented as a hard-nosed bitch in court".
The psychologist, who made a handwritten note of the comment at the time, said she did not agree, the inquest heard.
The psychologist also said Jack and Jennifer had both told her they felt Ms Morton did not listen to them.
She said she had been misrepresented in an email sent by Ms Morton to the parties in the family court proceedings.
The email stated Ms Morton and the psychologist had agreed on a plan, part of which involved a threat that if Olga didn't facilitate the children having contact with John they would be removed from her care and placed with their father.
"I would never agree to the children being restored to him," the psychologist said.
"If I didn't feel they were safe enough to be in a joint session how would I feel they would be safe living with him?"
The psychologist's notes suggest she canvassed the possibility Jack and Jennifer were being "influenced" by Olga in not wanting to see their dad.
But, she said, she ultimately believed what the kids said about his violence.
She agreed it was possible she had told Ms Morton she thought Olga was "controlling" at one point.
The psychologist also said she herself feared John, who she thought had a narcissistic personality and might be "more dangerous than he looks".
She shared this with Ms Morton and urged her not to tell John.
Asked why, she said: "Because I feared his retribution on me ... not physically. I thought he would professionally denigrate me, my reputation."
The inquest continues.*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as 'Hard-nosed bitch': Claims of slur on mum