Shock move focuses on police response to Kelly’s pleas

 

The Queensland Coroner has called in the police internal affairs division as part of an investigation into the death of Gold Coast mum Kelly Wilkinson.

The 27-year-old died after she was allegedly set alight by her estranged husband Brian Earl Johnston in the backyard of an Arundel home in front of the couple's horrified children last month.

Johnston, who was also badly burnt, spent 10 days in a coma and only regained consciousness last Friday.

While detectives are still waiting to speak to the former US Marine as part of a homicide investigation, the Coroner has launched an independent probe, calling on the Ethical Standards Command to examine other facets of the terrible tragedy, including the actions of police in the lead-up to Kelly's death.

Kelly Wilkinson was killed on the Gold Coast last month, just weeks after filing a personal protection order against her estranged husband Brian Johnston. Picture: Facebook
Kelly Wilkinson was killed on the Gold Coast last month, just weeks after filing a personal protection order against her estranged husband Brian Johnston. Picture: Facebook

The Courier-Mail earlier revealed that Johnston, 34, had been charged with serious offences just days before Kelly's death, but was allowed to walk free from a Gold Coast police station without even having to apply for bail.

Johnston was also the subject of a personal protection order taken out by Kelly just weeks earlier.

Coronial investigations are regularly conducted for any death that is not deemed to be natural causes, but it is uncommon for the ESC to become involved in cases other than deaths in police custody or deaths during a police operation.

Brian Johnston is charged with the murder of his estranged wife Kelly Wilkinson. Picture: Facebook
Brian Johnston is charged with the murder of his estranged wife Kelly Wilkinson. Picture: Facebook


The ESC will investigate the actions of police in the lead-up to Kelly's death, including claims she was turned away from police stations and was advised to give Johnston "space" when she raised concerns about her safety.

The decision to allow Johnston to walk free from a police station without having to face a bail hearing before a courtroom magistrate will also come under the microscope.

The coronial investigation is separate to an internal review of police processes being conducted by the QPS.

Kelly's death sent shockwaves through the Gold Coast community, with an extraordinary outpouring of support so far raising hundreds of thousands of dollars including a donation of a block of land to build a new house for her children, who are now living with their aunt Danielle.

Another fundraiser will be held on Thursday night with a virtual "Pinot and Picasso" event where all proceeds will go towards Kelly's family.

 

Originally published as Shock move puts focus on police response to Kelly's pleas for help



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