Madonna King: Ariel knew her father had murder on his mind – why did police send her away?

Source: WA Police

Ariel Bombara did what every parent should hope their daughter would do if thrown into a domestic violence maelstrom.

The 27-year-old West Australian fled the family home, with her mother, fearing that her father Mark Bombara planned to track them down and kill them.

Ariel knew her father had an arsenal of guns, including a Glock handgun.

So scared of her father’s murderous intentions, she and her mother sought a police escort to return to their home to collect some belongings.

Protective instincts

But Ariel’s determination to protect her mother from her father didn’t stop there. She says she sought a 72-hour temporary protection order; an order she says police did not support.

Ariel’s heartbreaking statement this week – after her father killed two women before turning the gun on himself – should be the impetus for reform that runs beyond guns and high-risk domestic violent offenders.

Ariel Bombara says authorities did not listen to her pleas for help. Photo: AAP

It should also be the catalyst for us to listen to the nation’s young women, whose deaths are driving up the domestic violence murder tally.

Ariel says she sought police help from WA police three times – from five different male police officers.

‘Completely helpless’

“By that point we felt completely helpless and I had to focus on getting mum to safety,’’ she said.

Imagine her desperation to protect her mother. Imagine her fear, knowing what her father might do. Imagine how she could make sense of any of that.

And imagine the heartache behind the public words she penned this week.

“I did everything I could to protect my mother. When my father couldn’t find us, he murdered her best friend and her best friend’s daughter,’’ she said.

Her 63-year-old father ended his own life after that gutless attack where he murdered Jennifer Petelczyc and her 18-year-old daughter Gretl last Friday – which incidentally is not considered a domestic violence murder because he did not have a relationship with either of the victims.

Serious systemic failure

Every other week we now read how authorities are failing domestic violence victims – but it’s hard to imagine a more serious systemic failure, based on Ariel’s public testimony.

“My mother and I made it clear that our lives were at risk. We were repeatedly ignored, repeatedly failed.’’

The response to Ariel’s brave public call for action is impossible to fathom and shows just how muted the voice of a young woman is in Australia in 2024.

What have we been told by authorities?

That her father was legally licensed to have the guns. That her father had no previous convictions. That no formal report was ever made to police. That police did what they were trained to do. That Ariel’s concerns were ‘triaged’, as they should have been.

Oh, and the government would tinker with amendments to gun laws before the WA Parliament – despite Ariel saying her father would have found another means of murder, without his cache of weapons.

Police said they would also investigate the police response to see if it could have been better.

No more

It’s hard to listen to any of that. This is not a cricket match where authorities embark on some sort of defensive game by bowling over the arguments of the person who is accusing them.

Ariel Bombara is a young woman whose father is dead, after killing two beautiful women whose fault was being friends with her mother.

She is a young woman whose mother is in a living hell, knowing her best friend is dead, when she was the planned target.

She is a young woman, like others who have lost their own lives or whose children have been killed in past weeks, wanting authorities to work with them to stop a growing tally of murders.

She is, like so many others, a young woman who cried out for help, and feels as though she has been ignored. And ignored. And ignored.

Answers needed

“My father should always be considered accountable for his actions,’’ Ariel said. “They were his and his alone; however, there are authorities who should have helped us to stop him, and they failed.

“I want answers.’’

Ariel deserves them. We all do.

If Anthony Albanese or Peter Dutton genuinely understood how women – and many men – are struggling with the nation’s domestic violence dossier, they’d be meeting with Ariel and her mother today.

And there would be no defence of anything that’s happened; just an almighty ‘sorry’ and a vow that we all work to do better, to stop this happening again. And again. And again.

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