A raft of support services and domestic violence protection orders were “insufficient” to protect a woman from being murdered by her ex-husband in a Gold Coast McDonald’s carpark, a coroner has found.
More than six years after the violent ordeal, the shocking abuse experienced by Karina Lock at the hands of her estranged husband Stephen Lock were revealed in non-inquest findings published by Deputy State Coroner Jane Bentley.
While praising the actions of a bystander who tried to intervene in the shooting, Ms Bentley was critical of the support offered to Ms Lock despite the “high level of assistance” from police, health and family intervention services.
Ms Lock died on September 10, 2015 after attending the Helensvale McDonald’s to meet her estranged husband.
At 9am, witness David Udinga described hearing a loud noise and Ms Lock screaming, “Help me, help me.”
Ms Lock got out of the car and ran to the restaurant saying: “He’s going to kill me.”
Despite Mr Udinga trying to get Mr Lock back into the car, the estranged husband brandished a gun and aimed it at Mr Udinga’s head saying: “Do you want to die?”
“At great risk to himself, Mr Udinga tried to assist when Ms Lock escaped the car and made her way into the restaurant. He is to be commended for his act of bravery and selflessness,” Ms Bentley said.
Mr Lock struggled with his ex-wife in the restaurant, putting her in a chokehold before shooting her in the head.
He then turned the gun on himself.
Ms Bentley said Ms Lock was subject to physical and verbal abuse during her marriage and had attempted to leave her husband several times.
She said Mr Lock had experienced significant mental health issues “exacerbated by his problematic drug use”.
Ms Bentley said Mr Lock had manipulated his wife into staying in the marriage and there was evidence he commonly spoke to her in a “degrading, aggressive and demanding” manner in front of others.
Mr Lock’s diary, discovered by police after the deaths, outlined chilling plans to harm Ms Lock and her children, including shooting them or organising a “hit” through bikie gangs.
Ms Bentley said the entries contained threatening comments to the family, conditions of reconciliation to be “more affectionate” and “hold hands, put arms around me” and references to her Jehovah’s Witness faith.
“It is highly suggestive of a marked deterioration in Mr Lock’s mental health,” Ms Bentley said.
A protection order was in place at the time of their deaths – made after Mr Lock attempted suicide and threatened to burn down the family home in 2013.
In her findings, Ms Bentley said Ms Lock was offered a high level of assistance by support services, health systems and the Queensland Police.
“However, the support provided by services was insufficient to protect her from Mr Lock, as was the Domestic Violence Protection Order which was in force,” she said.
“A more integrated approach may have made a difference to the tragic outcome.
“However, it is unlikely to have done so.”
Ms Bentley said reforms to domestic abuse services and laws in Queensland continued to be identified and implemented, with former judge Margaret McMurdo heading up a taskforce into the issue.
Mental health support