Saturday 21 September 2019

Grandfather 'planned the mass killing of my family', says distraught son-in-law

A forensic police officer investigates the scene in Osmington. Photo: Richard Wainwright/AAP Image via AP
A forensic police officer investigates the scene in Osmington. Photo: Richard Wainwright/AAP Image via AP

Alison Bevege

The father of four murdered children has blamed their grandfather for the mass shooting that killed three generations of the same family on a farm in the Margaret River wine-growing region in Australia's rural south-west.

The bodies of four young children along with three adults were found by police just after 6am on Friday at the farm in Osmington, a tiny town of 135 people on the southwest tip of the state of Western Australia.

The tragedy is being treated as a murder-suicide and WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson told a press conference they are not looking for any suspects.

Police have named the dead as property owner and grandfather Peter Miles (61), his wife Cynda (58), their daughter Katrina Miles (35) and her four children Taye (13), Rylan (12), Ayre (10) and Kadyn Cockman (8).

The father of the children, Aaron Cockman, a local carpenter and builder, had been involved an acrimonious split with Katrina, which led her and the children to move in with her parents.

Mr Cockman said he believed that Peter Miles had not "snapped" but had been "thinking this through for a long time". "Peter has been trying to hold it together for a long time. He's just thought... 'I can't live any more, so this is it for me'."

"I still love who Peter was and... if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have Katrina, I wouldn't have any kids. So it's not some random guy off the street who's taken them away from me, he gave them to me and now he's taken them away".

Mr Cockman told a press conference on Sunday that he had been full of anger after Peter and Cynda Miles cut him off from seeing his children.

"The anger towards them now is completely gone. Completely gone. I don't feel angry. I feel tremendous sadness for my kids," he said.

"I'm tremendously sad but I'll get through this."

Mr Cockman said police had told him the children had died peacefully, with Kaydin in his mother's bed. "All the kids died peacefully in their beds," he said.

Police seized three firearms from the scene on Friday, all "long-arm" weapons licensed to Peter Miles.

Long-arm weapons are shot from the shoulder, such as rifles or shotguns and are common on farms.

Police are still investigating the circumstances leading up to the worst mass shooting in Australia since the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996 when a gunman killed 35 people in Tasmania.

A coroner is to investigate.

Irish Independent

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