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HomeNewsCoronial inquest finds Katica Perinovic, children died from stab wounds

Coronial inquest finds Katica Perinovic, children died from stab wounds

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WARNING: Distressing content

The father of three children who were killed in a murder-suicide by their mother in Melbourne found them dead after coming home from buying a new television, an inquest into their deaths has revealed.

Katica Perinovic was being treated for first episode psychosis in the months leading up to her suicide and the deaths of her three children, Claire, Anna and Matthew.

A Victorian Coroner’s inquest found the 42-year-old had fatally stabbed her three children in the back before ending her own life in their family home in Tullamarine on January 14, 2021.

Her husband, Tomislav Perinovic, had come home from buying a television about 12.15pm to discover his three-year-old son with injuries to his head and arm on the floor of the rear living room.

He called emergency services to tell them his son was bleeding heavily.

When paramedics arrived about 12.30pm, they attempted to revive Matthew but found no signs of life.

As paramedics worked on Matthew, his father went into the rear living room and discovered the tragic sight of his wife and two other children, aged 5 and 7, before yelling out “they’re all dead”.

Coroner Audrey Jamieson was unable to find through the inquest whether the deaths were preventable but did find that there “were missed opportunities to intervene in the course of events preceding and leading to” the tragic incident.

Ms Perinovic had been displaying a decline in her mental health in November 2020 after she abruptly quit her job as a physiotherapist, as she was reportedly paranoid about her work colleagues.

The inquest found she visited her GP in early November and was referred to a private psychologist.

Ms Perinovic was noted to be displaying paranoia tendencies on November 16, 2020, and was again referred to the NorthWestern Mental Health Service.

Ms Jamieson found through the inquiry that Ms Perinovic had engaged in various clinical treatment both in person and over the phone between mid November to early January 2021.

“During all of these interactions (in late November 2020) she continued to exhibit paranoia but appeared to have made some improvement,” Ms Jamieson stated in her findings.

Ms Perinovic was prescribed risperidone to help with her paranoia, but in early December 2020 she requested her dose be reduced from 2mg to 1mg, as she told her doctor she had stopped having paranoid thoughts about her colleagues.

Her doctor advised against this and continued the treatment plan but noted he had concerns she “may stop taking her medication or reduce her dose due to poor insight”.

The inquest found Ms Perinovic spoke with her clinical team three times on the phone between December 8, 2020, and January 11, 2021.

“During all calls, she appeared to be less overtly paranoid, as she was more willing to engage via phone than previously and no longer expressed concerns about her phone being hacked,” the report stated.

“She was described as being ‘friendly’ during the first two contacts and denied any concerns or suicidal ideation during all three contacts.”

Ms Perinovic missed a scheduled appointment on January 11, 2021, because she’d gone to the pool with her kids and rescheduled for January 18, 2021 – four days after the fatal incident.

The inquest found Ms Perinovic had been treated for a potential overdose of risperidone on December 17, 2020.

She told paramedics she couldn’t sleep so took about 15 tablets but denied suicidal intent, the inquest found.

Ms Jamieson noted NorthWestern Mental Health Service was never notified of this incident.

She noted in her report she was not able to determine all of the contributing factors leading Ms Perinovic to end her own life and that of her children.

“However, in the absence of any other intervening significant event, I find that Katica was suffering from first episode psychosis and was not compliant with her risperidone prescription in the lead-up to the fatal incident,” Ms Jamieson stated.

Ms Jamieson said NorthWestern Health Service had implemented changes since the deaths to ensure missed appointments were to be rescheduled for the same day or the following day and two contacts per week must occur within the first three months of diagnosis of first episode psychosis.

“I find no causal link between NorthWestern Mental Health and (the GP’s) treatment of Katica Perinovic and her decision to take her own life and that of her children,” she stated.

“I do, however, find that the mental health treatment that was provided to Katica Perinovic to be suboptimal in the circumstances.

“I acknowledge and accept appropriate restorative and preventive measures have been taken by NorthWestern Mental Health since the fatal incident.

“I am unable to say with any degree of certainty that (the) death was preventable.

“However, I find that there were missed opportunities to intervene in the course of events preceding and leading to (the four) deaths.”

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