A mother committed a heartbreaking murder of her own daughter before killing herself, leaving their bodies to be found by her devastated husband, a coroner has found.
Aziza Beck died from a single gunshot wound to the head on January 29, 2017, aged three.
Her little body was found beside her mother’s.
About 8am that day, Aisha Beck made her husband lunch for him to take to work.
Her daughter was playing happily around them at their Pascoe Vale home.
Then Ms Beck got the keys to their gun safe.
About 1.30pm, she killed her daughter, then herself.
She was suffering from significant mental health issues including psychosis, concerns about money after being issued a Centrelink debt notice, and feeling isolated from a lack of friends and family, deputy state coroner Caitlin English noted after a summary inquest on Wednesday.
THE WORST DAY OF MOHAMED BECK’S LIFE
Aisha Beck moved to Australia from Singapore in 2006 about a year after meeting the man she had fallen in love with.
Only one month later, she and Mohamed Beck were married.
They wanted children and tried to conceive without success — before finally turning to IVF and hearing the news they had been hoping for years.
Baby Aziza Beck was born on April 27, 2013.
Two years later, neighbours were calling the police.
Aisha Beck was alarming the community by approaching random houses and asking to speak to Tony Abbott, Coroner English said.
“Upon police attendance, Ms Beck stated that ‘she was the Mother Mary’, and she had ‘just given birth to Jesus’,” she said.
“She requested to speak to Tony Abbott and the Norwegian embassy.”
Police took her to hospital but she was released after four days, with a promise to undergo treatment while at home.
She was on antipsychotic medication but felt “God was ready to take her”, the coroner heard.
She told her husband that she had thoughts about killing him.
A psychiatrist’s report from almost a year before the fatal act notes Ms Beck was experiencing “homicidal and suicidal ideation”.
She had “thoughts of killing both her daughter and herself”.
She also told a neighbour that “if she killed herself, she would have to kill Aziza”.
She felt she would need to take her daughter “with her” if she killed herself, she told those around her.
Then, in late 2016, her “significant distress” worsened with a letter from Centrelink.
She owed them $23,000 and had “defrauded” them, the letter informed her.
This “really got her down”, her husband told the coroner.
The Robodebt scheme that this letter may have been a part of has since been found unlawful, with refunds issued to those who paid them.
Meanwhile, her husband had taken more than half a year off work to support her while she struggled with her mental health but by late January, he had to go back.
She was terrified of leaving the house, he later told the coroner.
She decided to start playing with her medication, increasing and decreasing the dose and sometimes not taking it altogether.
On the day of the killings, Mohamed Beck returned home from work about 5.30pm and didn’t hear the sounds of Aziza running to greet him, like she usually did.
After he saw the bodies, he ran screaming into the street.
WHY SHE DID IT: CORONER
Coroner English found that a number of factors contributed to the horror day.
“It is important to recognise that violence perpetrated by an intimate family member is particularly shocking, given the family unit is expected to be a place of trust, safety and protection,” she said.
“While filicides are rare, they have significant and far-reaching impacts on those involved and the broader community.
“Younger children were found to be at greater risk of fatal harm by their mothers and older children by their fathers.”
Coroner English said the murder of her child was an “altruistic filicide” committed in the midst of a psychotic episode.
This is when the mother kills the child out of a “misguided belief that they are preventing or ending suffering”.
Like 67 per cent of mothers who kill their infants, she was psychotic — meaning she had lost touch with reality, suffering from delusional beliefs and possibly seeing or hearing things that were not there.
She also had significant PTSD from her own upbringing in Myanmar.
The PTSD originated from an episode in her South-East Asian home that would be chillingly echoed decades later in a Melbourne suburb.
When she was a child, Aisha found her own mother’s body after her mother had killed herself.
She had tried to help her mother.
“Exposure to suicide and/or suicide bereavement has long been identified as a risk factor for suicide,” Coroner English said.
Aisha also had “no” friends and family in Australia except for her husband, the evidence suggested.
Her next-door neighbour was friendly but Ms Beck was too nervous about “imposing” to pursue a meaningful relationship.
Her social isolation and dependence on her husband may have contributed to her mental health problems.
“Studies have reported that a sense of social isolation and lack of social support, as well as heightened levels of stress, are factors associated with a greater risk of maternal filicide,” Coroner English said.
In response to the tragedy, she recommended the government change the Medicare system to allocate government funding for longer sessions between mental health patients and GPs, and funding for consultations over-the-phone between GPs and psychotic patients.