Lismore murder-suicide: Police found body of father and child four hours after initial visit

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Remy Varga
The Nightly
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Police have made a grim discovery after the bodies of a man and his two-year-old son were found in an East Lismore home overnight. About 9.45pm on Sunday, Richmond Police District officers forced their way into a unit on College St, Lismore, following concerns for their welfare. 7NEWS
Police have made a grim discovery after the bodies of a man and his two-year-old son were found in an East Lismore home overnight. About 9.45pm on Sunday, Richmond Police District officers forced their way into a unit on College St, Lismore, following concerns for their welfare. 7NEWS Credit: 7NEWS/7NEWS

It was 5.30pm on a Sunday when police routinely knocked on the door of a home of a Lismore father who failed to return his two-year-old son as part of a planned custody visit.

When the 38-year-old failed to answer it, officers spoke to the man’s neighbours before leaving College St in East Lismore, a town in the Northern Rivers about 740km north of Sydney.

What police didn’t know was that that inside the single storey brick home the toddler and his dad were already likely dead in what police now suspect is a horrific murder-suicide.

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The grim situation became clear only after the boy’s grandmother made a second call to police, by which time the father was now more than four hours late in returning the toddler to his ex-partner.

The officers arrived for the second time at the College St house at about 9.45pm, again knocking on the door to no answer.

This time police broke down the door to find the bodies of the man and the toddler as well gassing equipment.

Investigators reportedly suspect the 38-year-old had rigged a system to poison himself and his son with carbon monoxide although the cause of death will be confirmed by a post mortem examination.

The mother had an apprehended violence order against her former partner and the circumstances of his final fatal visit with his son remain unclear.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb on Tuesday described the conditions of the order as “standard” and said there was nothing in them that raised alarm.

“As I understand the timeline police were called on that afternoon and responded within the hour and doorknocked and spoke to neighbours,” she said.

“And then after a second call police responded later that evening and forced entry to that premise and made that grisly awful discovery.”

The father is understood to be from interstate.

Lismore mayor Steve Krieg said any loss of life, particularly of children, was highly distressing for the local region and the broader state of NSW.

“Lismore people have been through a lot in the last two and a half years and it’s very saddening when the community experiences any loss of life,” he said.

“Unfortunately it’s sadly more common than we think, especially post disaster.

“Any loss of life especially involving young people is very distressing and upsetting not only for our community but I think the much broader region.”

Mr Krieg said incidents of domestic violence had increased in Lismore since floods devastated the Northern Rivers region in 2022 while the rising cost of living was also increasing the stress on families.

“I know there has been increases in significant domestic situations which probably can correlate to post-disaster trauma,” he said.

“Lismore and the region as a whole is still a long way from being recovered from the disaster that hit us and with the rising cost of living and there’s so many factors causing families and individuals increased stress and it’s a really challenging time for many people.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns said about 30,000 people in NSW had been charged with domestic violence.

In a speech to the Police Association of NSW in North Wollongong on Tuesday, Mr Minns said about 60 per cent of police work was related to domestic and family violence.

“It is distressing – and it’s distressing on the workforce as well. And seeing, in some instances, cowardly acts; often perpetrated against women and children,” he said.

“With women and children living in fear, in places where they should feel the safest, which is the home.”

The state government announced a $230 million domestic violence funding package and a review of bail laws after mother Molly Ticehurst was allegedly murdered by her former partner Daniel Billings last month.

At the time of the alleged killing Billings was on bail over charges of raping and stalking Ticehurst, a resident of the central NSW town of Forbes.

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