How can a man kill his own beloved son? The murder of Luke Batty by his divorced father remains a haunting horror to this day. Yet, Luke’s mother Rosie recognised her ex-husband’s genuine affection for his son in happier times.

On 12 February 2014, Luke Batty was killed by his own father. The event shocked me deeply at the time as a father. For many weeks after the event, I asked myself the question what might move a dad to cause the death of a son he loved dearly.

My heart was stirred by the emotions that inundated a raw part of me at each mention of young Luke’s death. The shock of a dad killing his son contrasted brutally against the instinctive sense I have to deeply care for my own children. I wanted to understand. My disbelief became “why?” and left me unsettled for lack of answers.

Daily Loss

I was also troubled that this dad was one of my clan — a separated parent. We shared a couple of things in common. We hold the privileged title of Dad and no longer make a home with the mother of our children. Chances are we shared a similar heartache, dealing with the loss of the everyday hug-to-hug of our dear children.

At various times we have probably been befuddled by the language and tactics of lawyers. It is probable that we were intimidated by an officious judge. But, the common ground simply unsettled me with more desire to make sense of my deep belief that parents do not — should not — harm their children.

I wanted to soothe the troubled part of me that caused a real sense of horror to stir up. I was upset and scared by the prospect of an angry, emotive outburst against my type, the struggling separated dad. For a few days, I wanted to be in my quiet place where I could turn over and mull and contemplate being lost for answers.


For me, there was something inconceivably abhorrent in Luke’s dad also being his killer. The ugliness of this killing has rightly stirred up a sense of disgust. This violence — any domestic violence in any of its variety of forms — is not OK.

I am aware of all the complexities that provide background to Luke being killed. However, I kept being drawn back to a simple truth — this violence is NOT OK.

Yet, I still wanted for some settling balm to make sense of a loved son being killed by his old man.

Gracious Mother

In the most unlikely of people, I didn’t find a cure for my confusion but was, instead, gifted with the most remarkable realignment of my perspective. I was among the throng asking “why?” before Luke’s mum drew attention away from the spectator’s questions by observing:

“[Luke’s dad] loved him more than anyone else.”

Luke’s mum, Rosie, acknowledged to a reporter,

“No one loved Luke more than Greg.”

Among the torrent of anger, fury, grief and soul-wrenching sadness, she wouldn’t even claim to love Luke the most. She gave that honour to Luke’s dad. The brave mum opted for graciousness when the easy option would have been vitriol, venting and hate.

She put it in my face, that graciousness and courage are best used in place of rage. Undoubtedly, she was torn by the unexpected horror, yet could still extend respect and compassion to Luke’s dad.

I am not certain that I could muster up the same.

Model for Others

I was saddened by Luke’s death. I was deeply saddened that some troubled part of Luke’s dad spoke louder than the love he had for his son. And, in the mix, I was awestruck by Luke’s mum.

She has formed a reminder that even in all the challenging parts of being a separated dad, my circumstances are a fragment of what Luke’s mum is suffering right now and in her demonstration of amazing graciousness, she has set an almighty benchmark for all separated parents.

I am sorry, Rosie, that so many people have stared into and scrutinised the complexity of your life that was laid bare in your time of grief.

But for a dark fragment of Luke’s dad, you might have remained anonymous to all but your friends and family, and now so many people bear witness to the great grief that you experienced all those years ago.

Hopefully, as they do so, they can marvel at the example of dignity and respect you have set for all separated mums and dads.


Photo: The Age

Published On: July 1st, 20220 CommentsTags: , , , , ,

About the Author: Greg McInerney

Greg is the father of two daughters.

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