"Totally preventable." For weeks on end, Kelly Wilkinson repeatedly reached out for help.

This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers.

Kelly Wilkinson's father, Reg Wilkinson, has described his daughter's death as "totally preventable".

"It starts at the top, not at the bottom — if DVOs are broken, put them in jail," he said. 

"If they are saying I need protection, give them protection — don’t fob them off as a crazy woman."

Watch: We lose one woman every week in Australia to domestic violence, but that's just the tip of a very grim iceberg. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Kelly Wilkinson, a 27-year-old mother-of-three, was found dead in her Gold Coast backyard on Tuesday morning after neighbours raised the alarm when they heard shouting.

When police arrived at the home in Spikes Court, Arundel, they found the woman's burned body in what they described as "a very confronting scene".

First responders also found Wilkinson's three children, all under the age of nine, who police say may have witnessed their mother's death. They are safe and have been taken into care. 

Wilkinson's estranged husband, Brian Earl Johnston, 34, was arrested just two blocks from the Arundel property, suffering burns to his hands. 

Johnston, who is currently under police guard at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, has been charged with his wife's alleged murder and breaching bail conditions.

In an interview with 7News on Thursday night, Wilkinson's family remembered the mother-of-three as "loyal", "playful", and the "rock" of the family.

"Walking into her house last night, I felt this complete emptiness and I’ve never felt like that walking into her house ever," Wilkinson's sister, Danielle Carroll, said.

"It’s so hard. Kelly was just so much more than this."

On Thursday night, Kelly Wilkinson's spoke to 7News. Post continues below.

The family shared that Wilkinson – who married Johnston at 18 after meeting the Ohio-born man online – had recently opened up about alleged problems in their relationship.

"She never had a car licence, and no access to money to get a car licence," father Reg Wilkinson told 7News.

"He would ruin each friendship she ever created, so no one could get close to her," the woman's sisters added.


In an interview with the Gold Coast Bulletin, sister Danielle Carroll alleged that recently: "Kelly said, 'I am scared for my life, I am scared for my children's life. We are not safe.'"

"She was saying this to the police over and over and nothing was done. There was no support, there was no safeguard," she added.

Her sister Natalie Wilkinson agreed, telling 7News: "I would drive her to the police station almost every day to make breaches and reports and still nothing."

Danielle Carroll, who has five children of her own, has taken in her sister's three children.

The family have since set up a GoFundMe page to support her children and help with funeral costs. 

Image: GoFundMe.

"The system has failed her."

According to Queensland Police, Kelly Wilkinson repeatedly asked for help in the "weeks and months" before her death.

Police said Wilkinson contacted them on at least three separate occasions and even got domestic violence support workers to reiterate her fears before her death.

Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd, who leads Queensland Police's new domestic violence task force, said every contact police had with the young mother will be forensically examined in a series of upcoming reviews and investigations.

Mr Codd said a suite of probes — including an internal review, and a criminal and coronial investigation — would determine if there'd been a systemic failure that contributed to Wilkinson's death.

He said police would never be able to prevent every domestic violence death, but any death was a failure.

"It’s important that we examine to what extent it is a systemic failure," Codd told reporters.

"Ultimately, it’s a failure. A woman has died. Somewhere along the line, she had engaged with the system, with us."


The federal Minister for Women's Safety Anne Ruston said the young mother's death was unspeakably brutal, and "the system has failed her".

Image: Facebook.

"It just brings home to us... that we have to do more. And I'm absolutely open to a conversation with the states and territories about how we can all work together so that we don't keep having this conversation."

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he felt "profound sorrow" over the alleged murder of Wilkinson and the alleged murder-suicide that resulted in the death of nine-month-old Kobi Shepherdson at the Barossa Reservoir in South Australia.

"These are horrific and sadly they're not the first of these sorts of terrible and awful events that have taken place," he said.

"There has been tremendous work done across all levels of government but these events once again tell us shockingly that whatever efforts we have been making — they can only be further increased. And that's what I believe would be the response of all governments in this country."

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

You can also call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit for further information.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

— With AAP.

Feature Image: Facebook/ABC.