Hannah Clarke 'was scared to leave Rowan'

The Clarke family has remembered Hannah as a caring and devoted mother.
The Clarke family has remembered Hannah as a caring and devoted mother.

The family of domestic violence victim Hannah Clarke has described their daughter and sister as a brave and caring woman who fought to protect her children until the very end.

Rowan Baxter killed Ms Clarke, Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, when he doused them in petrol and set their car alight in a Brisbane street on Wednesday morning.

He died shortly after stabbing himself in the abdomen with a knife following the attack.

Ms Clarke's mother Suzanne told Channel 9's A Current Affair on Friday night that her daughter first experienced psychological trauma and abuse through the control of her estranged husband, which slowly turned physical, leaving Ms Clarke in fear for her life.

Mrs Clarke said her daughter was "scared to leave" but had been making small steps to move away in recent times.

She said her daughter only last week brought up the idea of organising a will.

The family claims Baxter stalked Ms Clarke through her mobile phone and knew where she was at all times.

"She wasn't allowed to wear bikinis, she works in the fitness industry and wasn't allowed to wear shorts. She had to cover up," Mrs Clarke said.

"In the beginning we thought he was a prude, but in hindsight we know there was more to it than that. He was controlling. It was Rowan's way or the highway."

"She had to grovel and then he would forgive her. She was petrified.

"He could manipulate her. The night before he killed them he was on the phone to the children crying and she hung up or the children hung up she said to me 'Mum I feel so bad for him'.

"He was very good at playing the victim."

"We knew there was no way she could just say, 'I'm going and walk out the door'."

"She said, 'What happens to my babies if he kills me?'"

Ms Clarke's brother Nathaniel said his sister had confided in him, saying it seemed Baxter couldn't handle the success of his partner.

"He was a very jealous and spiteful person," he said.

"He managed to drive a wedge between us ... it was just all manipulated."

Ms Clarke's father Lloyd told ACA he believed Baxter had ambushed Hannah and the children to gain access to the car in Camp Hill.

He said his daughter bravely escaped the car and gave a detailed report to the medical staff on scene with burns covering 97 per cent of her body.

"To the end she fought to make sure if he survived he got punished for doing that to her babies, she was so brave," Mrs Clarke said fighting through tears.

The Clarke family said there had been multiple incidences in which Baxter would take the children hostage and times where he breached the couple's domestic violence order.

They say more needs to be done to ensure victims are better protected from their abusers and are hoping to establish a support system for women suffering at the hands of domestic violence.

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Australian Associated Press