Trigger warning: the following post deals with graphic domestic violence and suicide and may be distressing for some readers.
You can read more about the Coroner’s findings into this case here.
Last September, news broke that Lockhart man Geoff Hunt had murdered his wife Kim and their three children – Fletcher, 10, Mia, 8, and Phoebe, 6 – before taking his own life at their rural property near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.
According to the timeline put together by detectives, Geoff Hunt murdered Kim first before turning the gun on his children, murdering them one by one, execution style, as they lay in their beds.
His own body was found in a muddy dam on the property and a suicide note (since verified by a handwriting expert as belonging to Geoff Hunt) was found on the dining room table.
Yet despite the horrific crimes he committed, when news of the mass murder first broke, Geoff Hunt was repeatedly eulogised as a “great guy”, “super super patient”, “you couldn’t get a better bloke”, “a pillar of society”, “the most gentle considerate bloke”.
As I wrote at the time:
If a man walked into a classroom, pulled out a gun and shot three children and a teacher, before turning the gun on himself, we’d call it a massacre, and we’d call him a vicious murderer.
Yet when a man walks into his own home and shoots his three children and his wife before turning the gun on himself, he’s remembered in the press as a loving family man who was under some strain.
This week, the inquest into the murders was held. Here is how Geoff and Kim Hunt have each been characterised in the press:
He has been described as “a lovely guy”, “hard working, quiet, easy going, warm and loving”.
She has been described as “angry, frustrated and unable to control her moods”.
He “loved his family and never raised his voice”.
She had “lost her filter and she was capable of exploding with rage”.
He “helped her learn to walk and talk again”. She criticized him and called him “lazy”.
He “prepared the family’s meal, made the school lunches and watched Home and Away with the children”. She would “snap at her young children” and resented being left with them while he played golf.
He gave “his parents $1million a year”. She “had the shits” about it and “ranted that one of Mr Hunt’s brothers and his wife had stolen money from the family trust to build a new house”.
He “loved his family” and would do anything to help her. She “wasn’t the woman he married” and “told a relative she was not in love with or attracted to her husband.”
He murdered the family “out of love for his children” and because he wanted to “spare them pain”.
She wanted to die anyway and often “wished she were dead”.
The implication could not be clearer: he was a “great bloke”. She was a woman with a disability who “ranted” a lot. He might have pulled the trigger. But she was the witch that drove him to it.
Such is the reaction when white, middle class men murder their wives.
And along with this sympathetic treatment of Geoff, journalists have uncritically repeated the line that he felt “he had no other options”.
Repeated it as though divorce was not an option. As though separation was not an option. As though all people who suicide also feel the need to murder four family members first. As though there aren’t tens of thousands of people in Australia also enduring similar “strains” (and far worse) who find ways to go on which don’t involve murdering their families.