Perth double murder: WA police launch investigation after killer’s daughter claims officers ‘ignored’ warnings

The Western Australia police force will hold an internal investigation into its handling of interactions with the family of Perth murderer Mark Bombara after revelations that repeated concerns were raised before he killed Jenny and Gretl Petelczyc.

On Tuesday, the killer’s daughter, Ariel Bombara, released a statement saying she and her mother fled their family home on 28 March in “fear of our lives” and to remove themselves from an “abusive situation”.

On Friday, Bombara, 63, shot Petelczyc, 59, and her 18-year-old daughter at their Floreat home, where his ex-wife was believed to have been staying, before taking his own life.

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She said she spoke with police on three separate occasions between 30 March and 2 April to “raise the alarm” about her father, including his access to guns.

“I alerted officers to my father’s guns, and told them my mother and I felt there was a real and imminent threat to our lives,” she wrote.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday afternoon, the commissioner of the WA police force, Col Blanch, said after reading Bombara’s statement, he had asked an internal investigations unit to conduct an investigation into the family’s three interactions with officers.

“We will determine what was done, what was said, and what police responses were decided on at the time with the information that they had,” he said, adding if there was “anything we can do to improve” the investigation would “bore those [details] out”.

“Police are a thorough and transparent organisation that should always provide answers to the community.”

In her statement, Bombara said she made specific mention of a Glock handgun that was unaccounted for, which police said was found at the Floreat home where the two women were murdered.

“I also asked the police if we would be able to take out a 72-hour temporary protective order,” she said.

“We were told no, and that there was nothing police could do about the situation at that time.”

Bombara said on 2 April, she and her mother were provided a police escort to their home to collect some belongings, which was the third time they raised their concern about her father’s guns to the force.

“One officer said, ‘Oh don’t worry, we know all about the guns’, and when he called for backup, he warned his fellow officers to wear bulletproof vests,” she wrote.

“We were ignored by five different male officers across three occasions of reporting.

“By that point we felt completely helpless and I had to focus on getting mum to safety. I did everything I could to protect my mother, and when my father couldn’t find us he murdered her best friend and her best friend’s daughter.”

Blanch said it would be “wrong to speculate” on her specific allegations, but circumstances would not have met the threshold of a 72-hour temporary protective order, adding the killer had no prior domestic violence convictions.

He said the investigation would determine police’s reasoning behind not removing his firearms.

“I don’t want to add to [Bombara’s] grief but I think it’s important to get the correct details,” he said.

“I think that’s fair on the officers and I think that’s fair on the community for all of us to wait for that information.

“Domestic violence is a scourge of our community, it harms women at records we have never seen before … we should all be outraged. If we can fix the systems to make sure this doesn’t happen, that’s something I’ll lead with my colleagues and the government.”

On Sunday, Western Australia’s premier, Roger Cook, said more needed to be done to combat domestic violence after the “chilling and horrific” murders, adding he would consider strengthening the state’s tough gun laws, which were recently updated and in the process of passing through the parliament.

Bombara said while reforming gun laws was an “important step”, it was her “unwavering belief” that even without access to guns, her father would have committed “a horrific act of violence which likely would have claimed lives”.

“What my father did was an act of domestic violence,” she said.

“My mother and I made clear that lives were at risk, and we were repeatedly ignored. Repeatedly failed. Those failures have cost the lives of two incredible women.

“My father should always be considered accountable for his actions. They were his and his alone; however, there are authorities who should have helped us to stop him, and they failed. I want answers.”

At a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Det Insp Dave Gorton said police were not treating the incident as a family violence matter.

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14 and the national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732.