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20:21, Apr 23 2015
Edward Livingstone described himself as a “sex addict”, an inquest has heard.
Bradley, 9, and his sister Ellen, 6, were shot dead by Livingstone at their home in the Dunedin suburb of St Leonards, shortly before 10pm on January 15 last year.
Livingstone, 51, was later found dead in the front bedroom of the house at 9 Kiwi St.
A shotgun lay next to him. He left a final note at his flat before the killings.
Katharine Webb, Livingstone’s former wife and the mother of Bradley and Ellen, was the first of 18 witnesses called to give evidence at an inquest into the three deaths, which began on Tuesday in Dunedin.
She escaped the shooting unharmed.
LIVINGSTONE A ‘SEX ADDICT’
A psychotherapist, whose identity is suppressed, told the inquest she met with Livingstone 24 times between July 4, 2013, and December 18, 2013.
“He self-referred after realising that his traumatic past was having an effect on his current life,” she said.
Livingstone was also seeing a counsellor at the same time.
“Edward stated he wished to get all the help he could in the hope his marriage could be saved.”
The psychotherapist said Livingstone presented with severe depression that had been covert for many years. It was caused by continuous childhood trauma that had never been addressed.
“To cope with this, I believe he had been in a self-protective, disassociated state that incapacitated his state of awareness.”
His depression became noticeable to those around him in early 2013, the woman said.
“He told me his childhood trauma consisted of a violent, alcoholic father and his mother had left him when he was 3 years old. He was also sexually abused by a teacher at school when aged 11.”
Livingstone explained that his break-down began when his dog died in February 2013 and he “cried uncontrollably”.
“He had not experienced emotion such as this since he was a small boy. After that he realised that his anxiety would build until he exploded.”
Livingstone insisted that he never hurt his family, but would hit a wall or throw something, the psychotherapist said.
“Later, whenever I mentioned his anger, he said he was not angry, just frustrated. It seemed to him that anger ment violence as he had experienced with his father.”
Livingstone told her he drank six cans of beer most nights when he lived at the family home. He often went to his shed to drink and smoke cigarettes.
“He said he went through a stage of drinking heavily for a few weeks after he realised his marriage was over, but decided that it cost too much, was damaging his health and not helping him to feel better.”
He did not take drugs other than those he was prescribed.
At session three, Livingstone told the psychotherapist he had breached a protection order preventing him from seeing Webb. He had phoned her because he wanted to hear the sound of her voice.
He said he wouldn’t do it again, the psychotherapist said.
“He was very emotional at this time, missing his children and desperate to return home.
“He recognised that he had hurt his wife a great deal and felt a lot of shame that he had raped her by insisting on sex. He said he was a sex addict, not that he wanted sex that much but that he wanted to feel close to his wife.”
At session four, Livingstone gave the psychotherapist a typed copy of a recurring dream that he had at the end of 2012, early 2013.
“The dream appeared to be about the afterlife and he said he was very anxious about it.”
Livingstone said he did not believe in life after death.
When Livingstone received a letter from his wife in August 2013 telling him she could not forgive him for the rape and no longer wanted a relationship, he was “gutted but understood why she thought that”.
On September 18, 2013, Livingstone removed his wedding ring, and said he accepted his marriage was over.
He told the psychotherapist he had phoned Webb and told her. He did not expect her to ring the police. He was charged with breaching the protection order.
Livingstone continued to be very emotional until his medication changed. On September 25, he reported feeling much better.
His said his psychiatrist had told him it was possible the zyban he was taking to help him stop smoking, combined with the anti-depressants, had possibly caused a psychotic episode.
At session 18 on October 23, Livingstone was very upset and emotional. He had read a statement from his wife and was shocked at how he had been depicted as a “violent alcoholic nutter” in relation to incidents earlier in the year.
Livingstone said it was “agonising” not seeing his children. He was also worried about his finances, finding a new flat, the impending court case, the possibility of losing his job and not spending Christmas with his children.
At session 20 on November 6, Livingstone was determined to fight for access to his children. He was excited about going to Christchurch to meet up with a lady he had met.
The next session Livingstone was very upset. He said he found meeting with his children very difficult while a lady watched. He was also frustrated about struggles he was having getting possessions from his wife. He wanted 50 per cent custody of the children and half the house.
On December 4, Livingstone was very upset at not being able to attend his children’s school Christmas concert. He was excited that he had a new flat lined up and he was looking forward to his new girlfriend coming to visit. Financially he was still struggling.
Livingstone’s final meeting with the psychotherapist was on December 18. At the session he said he had given Christmas presents to his children earlier that day and was thrilled. He was hopeful of seeing them on Christmas Day.
The psychotherapist was taking a break until January 20, so she discussed with Livingstone some stresses that he might face over the Christmas period.
“He appeared buoyant, hopeful, and looking forward to change in the New Year although frustrated and fearful over events.”
They also discussed back up psych services if he felt overwhelmed.
The psychotherapist said she was “deeply shocked” to learn about the shooting.
Kathryn Dalziel, counsel assisting the coroner, questioned the psychotherapist about a letter she had written dated August 28, 2013, which was presented to the court in relation to a breach of the protection order.
The letter said: “I do not believe he [Livingstone] is a violent man.”
The psychotherapist told the inquest that was how she felt at the time.
Despite knowing about the rape at that stage she felt it was an isolated episode and that Livingstone was “moving forward”.
The psychotherapist’s feelings had now “changed quite a lot” with the extra knowledge she had.
Webb’s lawyer Anne Stevens said that Livingstone had not fully briefed the psychotherapist about his breach of the protection order in August.
Livingstone told her that he had phoned Webb. He failed to mention that he had also emailed his wife and visited the Kiwi St property.
“I knew nothing about that,” the psychotherapist said. Livingstone had misled her, she said.
“If I’d have known that I would have discussed with him that I’d ring the police, because I was concerned about his behaviour.”
Stevens questioned why the psychotherapist had taken Livingstone at his word and not looked at police’s summary of facts in relation to the incident.
“It’s not normally done,” the psychotherapist said.
“There are ethics and morals and it [psychotherapy] is about a client’s feelings and experience.”
Crown lawyer Robin Bates, who is acting for the police, questioned whether the psychotherapist was aware how her letter about Livingstone was going to be used.
“His lawyer asked me for a letter to explain that he was going through therapy and I responded,” the psychotherapist said.
“I should have asked more.”
The psychotherapist also told the inquest she regretted not seeking additional information from the Southern District Health Board about Livingstone.
The District Health Board was “overworked and under resourced” and often struggled to find the time to talk to psychotherapists, she said.
“But I still should have tried [to get the information].”
LIVINGSTONE DRANK BEER UNTIL HE WAS LEGLESS
Livingstone lived with Philip Mans from June 17, 2013, until January 8, 2014, at a home in Milton near Dunedin. The pair both worked at the Otago Correctional Facility (OCF).
Mans said the initial arrangement was that Livingstone would move in to his home for two months, because he believed that he and his wife needed to be apart to restore their relationship.
When Livingstone moved in he told Mans he suffered from “covert depression”.
Within a couple of weeks he began drinking daily.
The amounts Livingstone drank increased to a point where he was sometimes so drunk he was unable to stand, Mans said. He would regularly drink more than six large cans of Victorian Bitter in a night.
Livingstone would become depressed when he was under the influence of alcohol and told Mans about his domestic situation with Webb.
Mans recalled police arriving at his home about four or five months before the shooting. They arrested Livingstone.
Livingstone did not return until the following day and it was only then that Mans learned of a protection order preventing him from contacting Webb.
About a month after that incident, Livingstone was arrested again after breaching the protection order again. Contact with his children stopped.
“Ed told me that Kath was preventing him from seeing his children. He became increasingly desperate and would often cry when telling me about this after he had been drinking.”
Livingstone then met a woman online from Christchurch. “He seemed to pick up after meeting her and I thought that together with his visits to the psychologist he was improving.”
Livingstone began seeing his children again in November through supervised visits with Barnardos.
Mans said Livingstone was still drinking heavily and felt his children were estranged from him and their relationship was strained.
In early December, Mans told Livingstone that he was resigning from OCF and moving to Invercargill at the end of January 2014. Livingstone moved to a rental property on 5 High St on January 8.
Mans and Livingstone continued to exchange text messages occasionally.
Mans had a gun licence and owned four guns, including a shotgun, which were kept in a gun safe fixed to a wall in his kitchen.
The ammunition for the shotgun was kept in Mans’ bedroom drawer. The key to his gun safe was kept in his underwear drawer.
Mans said Livingstone would have seen him lock the gun safe several times and would have had a fair idea where he kept the key.
When Livingstone moved out of the house he gave Mans back his house key.
A spare key that was kept in the laundry had disappeared a few months earlier.
Mans said the first time he knew the shot gun had been stolen was when police turned up at his house about 1am on January 16, 2014.
“The officer told me it was Ed and that a shotgun had been used and that he wanted to check my gun safe.”
The shotgun was missing as were three boxes of ammunition.
When the officer left, Mans checked around the house but was unable to see any sign of forced entry.
Earlier, he had arrived home about 9pm and saw one of the curtains at the back sliding door had been pulled open. He usually closed all his curtains.
The last time he had checked on his firearms was the previous week when he had planned to go shooting rabbits, but didn’t because of the weather.
‘NOT SURPRISED’ LIVINGSTONE KILLED HIS KIDS
Barnardos employee Rebecca Cadogan supervised five of Livingstone’s six arranged visits with his children after he separated from Webb. She did not supervise Livingstone’s final visit on the day of the shooting because she was out of town.
Cadogan told the court it was clear before the first supervised visit on November 13, 2013, that Bradley and Ellen were reluctant to see Livingstone.
“Both appeared withdrawn and their mother made a point of telling me they were both scared of Edward.”
Cadogan did not find the children’s nervousness unnatural because she was aware of Livingstone’s history of family violence and the protection order in place.
The children’s uneasiness improved over the five sessions Cadogan was present, she said.
Cadogan said Livingstone initially appeared normal.
“What I did notice during the sessions was Edward often displayed unusual behaviour and contact seemed to be more about him than the children.
“He didn’t want to play at their level. He wanted to converse at a level beyond their comprehension,” Cadogan said.
“Edward did show love and affection towards Bradley and Ellen as well as cuddling and tickling them at times. The children seemed to enjoy this and there was a lot of laughing and smiling during these times.”
Cadogan said she did not believe Livingstone saw the visits as being about the children, but rather a need that he had to see them.
“He was emotionally manipulating often telling the children how much he missed them and how hard it was to be separated from them.”
That was clearly a breach of Barnardos’ visitor rules, Cadogan said.
She recalled an incident where Livingstone was sick during a session. He became unhappy and aggressive when the session was cut short.
“I was always aware around Edward as I had seen his potential to be aggressive and unpredictable,” Cadogan said.
“Despite my uneasiness towards Edward, I did not feel unsafe around him and generally though the sessions were going well.”
Cadogan said that when she learned that Livingstone had killed his children “I was not surprised”.
“Part of not being shocked by what he did I suppose is because of his unusual personality. It’s a little hard to explain any more than this, there was something amiss, but at the same time not something I could put my finger on.
Earlier in the year, Livingstone had given his children bullet casings at a supervised visit, which was not arranged by Barnardos.
Dr Allan Cooke, who is acting for Barnardos, asked Cadogan what would have happened if a similar incident had happened during one of the visits she supervised.
“I would have taken it as a threat of extreme violence and I would have ended it [the session] straight away.”
She said she then would have told her supervisor about the incident.
Webb’s lawyer asked Cadogan what she meant by her statement that she was not surprised when she learned Livingstone had killed her children.
Cadogan said it was a “gut reaction”.
She was out of town when she learned about the shooting and instinctively thought it might be Livingstone.
Her reaction was stemmed from the incident where Livingstone got sick and the supervised visit was cut short. On that occasion he flicked quickly from being quite emotional and sick to very aggressive.
“It [killing his children] was not something I thought he was incapable of.”
LIVINGSTONE’S DEPRESSION ‘ATYPICAL’
Dr David Chaplow conducted a clinical review into the serious adverse event involving Livingstone.
Chaplow said various people had dealings with Livingstone.
He was variously seen as self serving, manipulative, an alcohol abuser, and as having features of narcissism and psychopathy.
Others had a benign view of him; a loving father, steady worker.
Chaplow said Livingstone’s depression was “atypical”.
Personality traits suggested Livingstone was a complex person who struggled with relationships and trust, who could be self-absorbed and vindictive on occasions. He appeared to “impression manage” at other times, hence the multifaceted picture of who he was as a person.
Livingstone’s mood fluctuated with the degree of hope he had concerning the future of his marriage.
Chaplow said aspects of Livingstone’s care were “inadequate”.
The review’s main finding was that information held by various clinicians about Livingstone could have been shared better. Five or more parties were working in isolation, none had an expectation of the eventual outcome.
Collectively they failed to ascertain Livingstone’s danger to Webb.
* In cases like Livingstone’s, where police were involved and a restraining order was in place, referral for multi-disciplinary team input should be mandatory.
* In all cases that are referred to a specialist psychiatrist, a diagnostic formulation leading to a comprehensive management plan should be the expectation.
“In spite of the recommendations to improve the future quality and assessment and treatment, there was nothing that could have been done that would have changed the end result.”
Webb’s lawyer Anne Stevens told the inquest Livingstone had been “quite deliberately deceiving” people that were treating him. A previous witness had told the court that he knew the right things to say to the right people, Stevens said.
“The question is, how does a clinician trust the accuracy of the information the client has given them?”
Chaplow said most people who sought help genuinely wanted it.
“If a person deliberately sets out to … deceive all we can do is be aware of that possibility and down the track start to compare notes [with other people]. It does take time to ascertain the truth of the matter.”
Chaplow said that if Livingstone had told clinicians about the thoughts he had of killing his family then he would have been viewed as being dangerous and treated differently.
If clinicians had been made aware of information held by other agencies, including police, he was not sure if Livingstone’s treatment would have been different.
“While our review found plenty of things that could been done better … in a sense, the final decision [to shoot his children and take his own life] was his [Livingstone’s].”
Blood tests after Livingstone’s death revealed a blood alcohol reading of 43 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, which might have had an effect on him, Chaplow said.
“It doesn’t help.”
He confirmed there was no firm diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.
LIVINGSTONE ‘SMELLED OF ALCOHOL’
Mark Godwin, from the Department of Corrections, said Livingstone began working at the Otago Correctional Facility in November 2007. He was employed in administration.
During his recruitment, checksindicated Livingstone had no criminal convictions nor did he declare any.
Managers were aware Livingstone was going through a marriage break-up prior to August 2013, Godwin said.
He was offered assistance, but declined because he was already receiving counselling and psychiatric help and was on medication.
On August 8, 2013, Livingstone advised Corrections he had been arrested and charged for breaching a protection order, Goodwin said.
That was the first time the department became aware of the protection order.
Livingstone was granted special leave to allow him to prepare for the case and to support him as “he appeared to be in a fragile state of mind”. Livingstone returned to work later that month.
On September 18, he advised the department he had again been arrested.
In the lead up, it had been noted that Livingstone had been turning up to work looking “dishevelled” and there was a suggestion from other members of staff that he had sometimes smelt of alcohol.
On September 20, he was stood down for 48 hours pending a decision about suspension as a result of “serious misconduct”.
The unavailability of the prison manager meant the suspension was extended.
On September 27, Livingstone’s suspension was confirmed on the basis that being charged with an offence was a serious matter and the arrest was a repetition of a similar incident.
During October, Livingstone’s suspension was lifted and he was allowed to return to work.
This decision was based on an assessment that a return to work was in Livingstone’s best interests.
After Livingstone was sentenced on November 15, Corrections’ employment investigation continued.
The prison manager reached the view that Livingstone’s actions had breached the department’s code of conduct and therefore constituted a serious misconduct. Livingstone received a final written warning on December 9.
Godwin told the inquest the reason Livingstone was not dismissed was in part because of the outcome of the court case where he was discharged without conviction.
If Livingstone had been convicted of an offence the outcome might have been different.
Godwin said that if Corrections had known about Livingstone’s historic arson conviction when he was being recruited, he would have been questioned about it. It may have had a bearing on him being employed.
During the recruitment process, potential employees were now asked to disclose if they had any overseas convictions, Godwin said.
A new trans-Tasman information sharing agreement also made it easier for New Zealand police to carry out background checks on people who had lived in Australia.
In a submission in relation to the code of conduct inquiry dated 24 September 2013, Livingstone wrote: “To say the last six months has not been easy for me would be an understatement.
“Separation from a love relationship that involves children is very painful, actually the most painful event that I have ever experienced, but I have arrived at a point in my life where I accept that I have to start to rebuild my life, my social circles and friendships, and build from past mistakes and the lessons they have provided me.”
He finished the letter with: “My past has past, and I look forward to the future now (sic).”
KEY POINTS FROM DAY TWO
* Southern District Commander Andrew Coster said police had failed to pick up red flags in the case and the Criminal Investigation Branch should have investigated an allegation, admitted by Livingstone, that he had brutally raped his wife Katharine in May, 2013. The police effort was well intentioned but inadequate and too much weight had been given to Katharine Webb’s wishes. Livingstone should not have been considered eligible for diversion and police should have pursued the allegation despite the victim’s desire not to pursue the allegation. Steps had been taken to address the failures, he said, with a specialist investigation unit set up.
* Detective Senior Sergeant Kallum Croudis, of the Dunedin police, admitted a series of significant failings by police staff who dealt with Livingstone and his family in the months before the shooting. Police had failed to follow-up in a timely way information Livingstone had an arson conviction in Australia. Bullet casings Livingstone gave to his children at a supervised visit and then handed to police should have been investigated.
* Livingstone drove to the Kiwi St property with a red fuel container full of petrol, a shotgun stolen from his former flatmate and ammunition. There were beers in the car, but blood tests would later show he was not over the legal limit. Livingstone entered the house through a side door using a key before shooting his children in their bedrooms.
* Police investigations showed Livingstone claimed he was abused at a boys’ school in Sydney and had a violent father. His mother left the family when he was very young. He has a younger sister called Suzanne.
* Police received information, probably on August 8 last year, that Livingstone was harassing his former wife’s neighbour by phone calls and text messages mainly wanting to know if his wife was still wearing her wedding ring. Police were also told Livingstone was sneaking around his former family home when his wife was at work. The informant (name suppressed) told police Livingstone was, “f…… nuts”.
* The general practitioner treating Livingstone says she doubts the drugs she prescribed on May 16, 2013 (zyban and escitalopram) could have caused a psychotic episode leading him to rape his wife. He had not reported problems with past use of zyban. Livingstone’s psychiatrist Chris Wisely believes Livingstone had an adverse reaction to the drugs that led to the rape his wife. The couple separated after the rape.
KEY POINTS FROM DAY ONE
* Katharine Webb said Edward Livingstone raped her in May 2013 shortly before they separated. She did not pursue charges because she wanted to focus on getting out of the house and keeping her children safe. She knew where to go for help if needed.
* In 2013, Livingstone twice (August 6-7 and September 14) breached a protection order preventing him from contacting Webb in the months before the shooting. He obtained police diversion on one charge and a discharge without conviction on the other.
* Livingstone had an historic conviction for arson in Australia dating back to 1988. The court heard he set fire to his former fiance’s home after coming home to find her in bed with another man.
* Livingstone gave bullet casings to his children during a supervised visit after he separated from Webb.
* Livingstone told associates he had thoughts about killing his family and himself in the months before the shooting. Livingstone’s neighbour Mel Foot said she contacted police in August 2013 and told them that Livingstone had talked about killing his family. Foot alleged the complaint was never followed up by police.
* Psychiatrist Christopher Wisely was unaware of Livingstone’s historic conviction for arson or the incident involving the bullet casings. If Wisely had known it may have altered the risk assessment he gave to a judge at a sentencing hearing at Dunedin District Court on November 15, 2013, in relation to the second breach of the protection order. Livingstone was discharged without conviction.
* Police prosecutor Sergeant Kate Saxton said she was not fully aware of Livingstone’s criminal offending in Australia at the time of the hearing. She could have sought an adjournment on the matter until she was sent all the information, but decided not to. Interpol sent her a copy of Livingstone’s Australian criminal history on December 9. Saxton conceded that the information could have altered the outcome of the sentencing.
* Saxton also told the court that Livingstone should not have received diversion for the first breach of the protection order. Diversion was not available for breaching a court order, she said.
* Wisely said Edward Livingstone sourced the shotgun used in the shooting from a former flatmate’s home. The flatmate did not know Livingstone had taken the gun until police came to his home after the shooting.