A FORMER rugby star may have carried out a horrific attack on his family after a witness claimed he jumped into his estranged wife’s car after setting it on fire and stabbing himself to death.
Rowan Baxter and his young children Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey – all aged under ten – were trapped in the car as it erupted in flames as police suggested the fire could have been started ‘deliberately’.
Their mum Hannah who jumped from the wreckage and was rushed to hospital with “significant burns” but succumbed to her injuries and died hours later Queensland police confirmed.
She was heard yelling “he’s poured petrol on me” as she “rolled on the footpath in flames”, The Australian reported after the ordeal took place at around 8.20pm yesterday in Brisbane, Australia.
Police confirmed the three children tragically perished at the scene of the fire along with ex-New Zealand Warrior Rowan.
Detective Inspector Mark Thompson wouldn’t be drawn on how the fire was started as it is too early to tell but some reports suggest it may have been started deliberately.
Although a witness has said that they watched the former rugby star jump into the car after setting it alight while his wife was on the school run with their three young children.
Neighbour, Aaron Snell, told the Courier Mail, that Baxter was in ‘all manner of states’ and jumped into the flaming car to grab a knife as bystanders tried to help.
He claims that the dad-of-three was angry at those trying to save the children trapped in the fire and ‘protested to stop putting it out’.
Nine News reports that Baxter died of self-inflicted stab wounds but police would not confirm this and said his body was found outside of the vehicle.
According to the news site, he was also spotted filling up a jerry can with fuel at a local service station before the incident took place.
DI Thompson added: “How the fire actually occurred has not been ascertained at the moment, so for us to call it a murder-suicide or a tragic accident, it’s inappropriate at this stage.”
Horrified locals ran out of their homes after hearing a bang that sounded like a gas bottle exploding, according to reports.
One witness told The Courier Mail: how the mum’s skin was “peeling off her” as she held her hands up.
They added: “She was awake and conscious and completely aware of what had happened.
“It was really quite horrific.”
One man who lives about 20 metres from where the car now sits burnt out said he had spoken to witnesses who saw the incident unfold.
He said: “According to them this vehicle that’s obviously burnt pulled up beside them and the lady yelled out, ‘he’s poured petrol on me’.
“Next minute, about four other explosions. Apparently there’s some young kids in the car.
“By that time you couldn’t get near the vehicle, unless you had a proper suit on, you were just no hope.
“Some young trade blokes down the road they came and out some timber or something to stop the vehicle going further because it actually rolled across the road from here to there.
“The young lady was rolling on the footpath on flames.”
The Courier Mail reports how Rowan and Hannah had been locked in a custody battle – with all his recent Facebook posts revolving around his love for his children.
Emergency services are attending multiple crime scenes and the situation is still in its early stages.
Witnesses filmed firefighters putting out what appears to be a vehicle engulfed in smoke on the residential road.
The burned-out car has since been covered in orange plastic sheeting as police started their investigation.
A New Zealand Warriors spokesman said Rowan was in their NRL squad in 2005.
He added: “Rowan didn’t play an NRL match. He was in our full-time NRL squad in 2005. He played in NRL trials”.
Queensland’s Police Minister Mark Ryan called the incident “horrific” and a “terrible tragedy” during his parliamentary briefing this morning after talking to the Police Commissioner.
He said: “The situation is at a very early stage and I am informed that police are investigating all of the circumstances surrounding this tragic set of events.
“Today is a very sad day.”
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