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Homicide in Australia, 2008–10

Homicide incidents

In 2010, an AIC-led review of the NHMP recommended that the data collection from state and territory police continue as an ongoing annual process, but that reporting on the NHMP take place biennially. This report represents the first of the AIC’s new biennial reporting series, detailing the nature and context of homicides occurring in the 2008–09 and 2009–10 financial years.

A total of 510 homicides were recorded across Australia throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10. Individually, the number of homicide incidents were similar across the two years, with 253 incidents recorded in 2008–09 and 257 incidents in 2009–10 (see Figure 1). Overall, 541 victims were killed throughout the period, while 611 offenders were identified. Both the number of victims and offenders is greater than the total number of incidents, due to the fact that some incidents involved the death of multiple victims (n=26; 5%), or the actions of more than one offender (n=71; 14%). Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, there were five incidents involving both multiple victims and offenders. A total of 17 incidents did not, at the time of reporting, have an identified offender.

The homicide rate in Australia remains at an historical low (see Figure 2). In the most recent year (2009–10), the rate was calculated at 1.2 incidents per 100,000 and remains the lowest ever recorded in the NHMP. Since the AIC began collecting data for the NHMP in 1989–90, there has been an overall decrease of approximately 16 percent (n=307 cf 257) in the overall number of homicide incidents (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 Homicide incidents by year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (n)

Homicide incidents by year, 1989–90 to 2009–10

Source: ABS 2010; AIC NHMP 1989–90 to 2009–10 [computer file]

Figure 2 Homicide incidents by year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (rate per 100,000)

Homicide incidents by year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (rate per 100,000)

Source: ABS 2010; AIC NHMP 1989–90 to 2009–10 [computer file]

Consistent with previous years, New South Wales again recorded the largest number of homicides in Australia, with 153 incidents throughout 2008–10 (see Table 1). This was followed by Victoria (n=110 incidents), Queensland (n=102), Western Australia (n=53) and South Australia (n=47). The Northern Territory (n=24), Tasmania (n=14) and the Australian Capital Territory (n=7) recorded the lowest number of homicides in Australia.

However, despite having one of the lowest total number of homicides nationally, when standardised by population size, the Northern Territory had the highest homicide rate (4.9 per 100,000 in 2008–09 and 5.7 per 100,000 in 2009–10). This is consistent with findings from the previous NHMP annual report (Virueda & Payne 2010). Overall, in 2008–09, Victoria recorded the lowest rate (0.9 per 100,000) of homicide in Australia, while the Australian Capital Territory recorded the lowest rate (0.8 per 100,000) in 2009–10 (see Table 1).

Table 1 Homicide incidents by jurisdiction, 2008–10 (rate per 100,000)
2008–09 2009–10
n Rate per 100,000 n Rate per 100,000
NSW 77 1.1 76 1.1
Vic 51 0.9 59 1.1
Qld 46 1.0 56 1.2
WA 30 1.3 23 1
SA 26 1.6 21 1.3
Tas 8 1.6 6 1.2
NT 11 4.9 13 5.7
ACT 4 1.1 3 0.8
National 253 1.2 257 1.2

Source: ABS 2010; AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Homicide incident classification

Methods of homicide classification include those that focus on qualitative characteristics (eg the relationship between victim and offender, and precipitating events) and those based on more specific quantitative measures (eg the number of victims killed and offenders involved). Further, the triangulation of various victim, offender and incident characteristics complicates the development of homicide typologies such that, with the exception of specific legal definitions that may vary across jurisdictions (such as infanticide), there is no universally agreed method for classification.

In this report, homicide incidents are classified into three primary categories according to the principal relationship shared between the victim and the offender. The categories are:

  • domestic homicide—an incident involving the death of a family member or other person from a domestic relationship. This includes:
    • intimate partner homicide—where the victim and offender share a current or former intimate relationship, including homosexual and extramarital relationships;
    • filicide—where a custodial or non-custodial parent (including step-parent) kills a child (including infanticide, which is defined as the killing of a child under 1 year of age);
    • parricide—where a child kills a custodial or non-custodial parent or step-parent;
    • siblicide—where one sibling kills another; and
    • other family homicide—where the victim and offender are related by family, but are not otherwise classified above (such as a cousin, aunt, grandparent etc);
  • acquaintance homicide—an incident involving a victim and offender who were known to each other but who were not related to each other, nor living in a domestic relationship; and
  • stranger homicide—all other incidents where the victim and offender were not known to each other, or were known to each other for less than 24 hours.

For the vast majority of homicide incidents that involve a single victim/single offender, classifying the principal relationship is relatively straightforward. However, for multiple victim and/or multiple offender homicide incidents, this process is complicated by the presence of two or more different relationships (1 for each unique victim and offender pair). In this report, where an incident involves two or more relationship types, the principal relationship is taken to be the closest known relationship shared between any one victim and offender pair. Where an incident involves two victims (and 2 relationships) within the same category, the closest relationship is chosen for classification. For example, incidents involving the death of an intimate partner and one or more children will be classified as an intimate partner homicide for the purposes of this report.

Of the 510 homicide incidents recorded throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, a total of 191 (37%) were classified as acquaintance homicides, 185 (36%) as domestic homicides and 66 (13%) as stranger homicides (see Figure 3). The remaining 68 incidents (13%) could not be classified because at the time of reporting, the offender–victim relationship was not known.

Figure 3 Homicide incidents by classification, 2008–10 (%)

Homicide incidents by classification, 2008–10 (%)

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Of the 185 domestic homicides throughout the 2008–10 period, 122 (66%) were sub-classified as intimate partner homicides, 22 (12%) as filicides (7 of which involved an infanticide; that is, the death of a child under 1 year of age), 20 (11%) as parricides and four (2%) as siblicide. The remaining 17 (9%) were classified as ‘other’ family homicides (see Figure 4).

Figure 4 Domestic homicide incidents by sub-classification, 2008–10 (%)

 i

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Because this classification takes into account only the principal relationship in each incident, it is worth noting that four of the 122 intimate partner homicides also involved the death of a child, while three involved the death of an acquaintance within the same incident.

Compared with recent years, the number of domestic homicides has fallen. In 2007–08, domestic homicides comprised 52 percent of all homicides, but comprised only 36 percent of all recorded homicides in 2008–09 and 2009–10. Further, the number of domestic homicides in 2008–09 was the lowest recorded in more than 20 years of NHMP data collection (n=85; 34%; see Figure 5). For other homicide types, the results in 2008–09 and 2009–10 were relatively stable when compared with previous years.

Figure 5 Homicide type by year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (n)

Homicide type by year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (n)

Source: ABS 2010; AIC NHMP 1989–90 to 2009–10 [computer file]

The proportion of domestic homicides varies by jurisdiction (see Table 2). Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, over half of all homicides in the Northern Territory (54%) and South Australia (51%) were classified as ‘domestic’, as were 41 percent of Queensland homicides. In Victoria (34%), New South Wales (33%) and Western Australia (32%), approximately one in three deaths were classified as a domestic homicide, whereas less than one in five in the Australian Capital Territory (14%) and less than one in 10 (7%) in Tasmania were domestic related.

Table 2 Homicide type by jurisdiction, 2008–10 (%)a
NSW
(n=153)
Vic
(n=110)
Qld
(n=102)
WA
(n=53)
SA
(n=47)
Tas
(n=14)
NT
(n=24)
ACT
(n=7)
National
(n=510)
Domestic 33 34 41 32 51 7 54 14 36
Acquaintance 37 45 29 40 28 71 29 57 37
Stranger 10 12 21 11 11 14 13 14 13
Unclassified 21 9 9 17 11 7 4 14 13

a: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Acquaintance homicides were more prevalent in Tasmania (71%) and the Australian Capital Territory (57%) compared with other jurisdictions. These results should, however, be considered with caution as the actual number of homicides in these jurisdictions were also considerably higher than their state and territory counterparts.

Stranger homicides were more prevalent in Queensland (21%) yet comprised between 10 and 14 percent of homicides in all other states and territories—ranging from a low of 10 percent (n=15) in New South Wales to 14 percent in the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania (n=1 and n=2 respectively).

Nationally, 13 percent of cases were designated as unclassified cases, among which, New South Wales had the highest overall proportion (21%), followed closely by Western Australia (17%). Throughout the different states and territories, Northern Territory had the lowest recorded proportion of unclassified cases (4%).

Temporal characteristics

More than half of all homicides (59%) in 2008–09 and 2009–10 occurred in the evening hours between 6 pm and 6 am. A greater number of homicides occurred between the hours of 6 pm and midnight than at any other time (n=175; 34%), with 130 homicides (25%; see Table 3) occurring between midnight and 6 am. Together, the morning hours of between 6 am and midday recorded the fewest homicide incidents (n=67; 13%)—a finding that is consistent with previous NHMP reports (Virueda & Payne 2010).

Table 3 Temporal pattern of homicide incidents, 2008–10
Time of day n %
00:00–05:59 130 25
06:00–11:59 67 13
12:00–17:59 75 15
18:00–23:59 175 34
Unknown/not stated 63 12
Day of week
Sunday 98 19
Monday 56 11
Tuesday 53 10
Wednesday 59 12
Thursday 61 12
Friday 73 14
Saturday 92 18
Unknown 18 4

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

By day of week, a greater proportion of homicides occurred on Saturdays (n=92; 18%) and Sundays (n=98; 19%) than on any other day of the week. Tuesdays had the fewest number of homicides throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10 (n=53; 10%).

The joint distribution of both the time of day and day of week provides a more complete picture of the temporal nature of homicides across Australia (see Figure 6). It can be seen that homicides were more likely to occur between 6 pm and midnight on Saturdays (n=33), and midnight and 6 am on Sunday (n=34) than at any other time during the week. This finding suggests that homicides may be associated with participation in the night-time economy over the weekend or other situations involving social congregations, such as family gatherings. Homicides between Friday night through Saturday morning and Saturday night through Sunday morning accounted for as many as one in four homicides throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10.

Figure 6 Temporal pattern of homicide incidents, 2008–10 (n)

Temporal pattern of homicide incidents, 2008–10 (n)

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

The periods with the fewest recorded homicides were Tuesday morning between midnight and 6 am (n=5), Wednesday between 6 am and midday (n=6) and Saturday morning between 6 am and midday (n=5).

When comparing the results between 2008–09 and 2009–10, there was a slight decrease in the number of homicide incidents occurring between 6 pm to before midnight on Sundays (from 18 to 12) and from midnight to before 6 am on Mondays (from 12 to 7). Conversely, there was an increase in the overall number of incidents between 6 pm to before midnight on Wednesday (from 10 to 17) and Thursday nights (from 8 to 14). On aggregate, there was a modest overall decrease in the number of incidents on Sundays (from 54 to 42), Mondays (from 30 to 25) and Thursdays (from 32 to 29). Analysis of the temporal distribution of homicide incidents over the week therefore indicated that the evening hours was when most homicide incidents occurred (n=175; 34%).

Different homicide types have different temporal characteristics (see Figure 7). For example, homicides between strangers were disproportionally skewed towards the weekends, with over half (65%; see Table A6) having occurred specifically on Friday and Saturday evenings (from 6 pm to 6 am). Comparatively few stranger homicides occurred on weekdays and rarely during the daytime hours. Acquaintance and domestic homicides were also most likely to occur during the evening hours, but the distribution throughout the week was more even.

Figure 7 Temporal pattern of homicide incidents by type of homicide, 2008–10 (n)

Temporal pattern of homicide incidents by type of homicide, 2008–10 (n)

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Given that homicide requires two or more people to come together in space and time, it is highly probable that days with increased social interactions are also those when a homicide is most likely to occur (Mouzos & Houliaras 2006). This does not necessarily have to mean strangers in a public setting, rather, it can also refer to gatherings between family and friends. Nevertheless, homicides are more likely to occur when there is a convergence of certain times and days (ie weekends) with the consumption of alcohol and increased levels of socialising. The link between homicide in Australia and routine activities is well documented (Carcach & Conroy 2001) and is particularly relevant in incidents relating to stranger and acquaintance homicides.

Location

Three in every five homicides throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10 occurred in a residential location (n=268; 61%; see Figure 8). The majority of homicides took place at the victim’s own home (n=199; 45%), as opposed to the offender’s home (n=40; 9%) or some other person’s home (n=29; 7%; see Table 4). As in previous NHMP reports, these findings should be interpreted with some caution because homicide incidents that occur in a dwelling shared by both the victim and the offender will be recorded as the victim’s home. Only if the offender and victim live separately and the homicide occurred in the offender’s residence will the homicide location be recorded as the offender’s home.

Figure 8 Location of homicide incidents, 2008–10 (%)

Location of homicide incidents, 2008–10 (%)

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

The next most prominent location for a homicide to take place was on a street or open area. The most common subcategory under this classification was street, road or highway (n=62; 14%) and in open areas or waterways (n=32; 7%). Car parks or public garages (n=8; 2%), sporting ovals or related facilities (n=5; 1%) and public transport (n=3; 1%) were the least common locations for a homicide under this classification (see Table 4).

Table 4 Location of homicide incidents by type of homicide, 2008–10
Domestic homicide
(n=185)
Acquaintance homicide
(n=191)
Stranger homicide
(n=66)
n % n % n %
Residential
Victims home 126 88 62 58 11 61
Offender home 8 6 30 28 2 11
Other home 9 6 15 14 5 28
Subtotala 143 107 18  
Street or open area
Open area/waterway 14 58 15 28 3 9
Street/road/highway 8 33 30 57 24 73
Sporting oval/facility 0 0 3 6 2 6
Public transport 0 0 2 4 1 3
Car park/garage 2 8 3 6 3 9
Subtotala 24 53 33  
Other
Hospital/health care 3 17 1 3 0 0
Shopping mall 0 0 3 10 2 13
Recreation venue 2 11 4 13 7 47
Workplace 3 17 3 10 0 0
Private motor vehicle 1 6 2 6 2 13
Corrective institution 0 0 3 10 0 0
Nursing home 0 0 1 3 0 0
Psychiatric facility 0 0 1 3 0 0
Other/not stated/unknown 9 50 13 42 4 27
Subtotala 18 31 15  

a: Excludes unclassified homicides. Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

The location of a homicide is largely influenced by the type of homicide. As might be expected, domestic homicides accounted for the largest proportion of those incidents that took place in a residential location (n=143; 53%) as opposed to acquaintance (n=107; 40%) or stranger homicides (n=18; 7%; see Table 4). By contrast, the greatest proportion of acquaintance homicides occurred on the street or in an open area (n=53; 48%). Further, 11 homicides occurred at a recreational venue (bars, pubs and clubs) and involved a friend, acquaintance or stranger. Previous research has been shown that homicides that occur in the night-time economy usually involve alcohol consumption by either the victim or the offender (Dearden & Payne 2009).

Cause of death

Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, there were more deaths resulting from stab wounds (n=208; 38%) than any other single cause (see Table 5). Beatings (n=135; 25%) accounted for one in four victims and were the next most likely cause of death, followed by gunshot wounds (n=71; 13%). Although not as frequent, it is worth noting that 28 victims died from strangulation (5%), nine from smoke inhalation/burns (2%), nine from a drug overdose (2%) and seven were drowned (1%). A further three died as a result of criminal neglect, two victims were poisoned and one was electrocuted. A further 23 victims died from ‘other’ causes, such as being deliberately hit by a car. It is important to note that the cause of death is specific to each unique victim within a homicide incident and for multiple victim homicides, the cause of death may be different for different victims. As such, the information presented in Table 5 provides both a victim and incident count. The latter is a count of the number of incidents for which each cause of death was identified and incidents may be double counted where there were multiple different causes of death.

Table 5 Cause of death in homicide incidents by victims and incidents, 2008–10
Victims (n) Incidents (n) Incidents (%)a
Stab wounds 208 198 39
Beatings 135 128 25
Gunshot wounds 71 65 13
Criminal neglect 3 3 1
Drug overdose 9 9 2
Strangulation/suffocation 28 28 5
Poisoning 2 1 <1
Smoke inhalation/burns 9 9 2
Shaking 1 1 <1
Other (eg hit by car) 23 20 4
Drowning 7 6 1
Electrocution 1 1 <1
Not stated/unknown 44 41 8

a: Percentages may not sum to 100 due to double counting

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

For victims who died from a stab wound, knives were used in the overwhelming majority of cases (n=176; 86%). A further 27 victims (13%) were stabbed with some other sharp object, such as broken glass. In only two incidents (1%) were both a knife and other sharp instrument used in combination. Of those who died from a gunshot wound, the type of firearm was identified for 40 victims, the most common being single or double barrelled shotguns (n=18; 45%), followed by rimfire rifles (not self-loading; n=9; 23%), restricted firearms (all handguns, including air pistols and revolvers; n=6; 15%), prohibited firearms (including self-loading rimfire rifles with a magazine capacity no greater than five rounds and pump action shotguns with a magazine capacity no greater than five rounds; n=4; 10%) and automatic rifles (n=3; 8%).

By type, stab wounds were most commonly recorded as the cause of death for both domestic and acquaintance homicides (43% and 42% respectively; see Table 6); however, beatings were the most common cause of death recorded in stranger homicides (n=34; 52%). Other notable differences existed, namely:

  • suffocation and/or strangulation was more common in domestic homicides (n=17; 9%) than in acquaintance (n=7; 4%) or stranger homicides (n=0; 0%);
  • gunshot wounds were more likely to be recorded for acquaintance homicides (n=26; 14%) than for domestic (n=19; 10%) or stranger homicides (n=5; 8%); and
  • although the numbers were small, more domestic homicides resulted from smoke inhalation/burns (n=6; 3%) than was the case for acquaintance (n=1; 1%) or stranger homicides (n=0; 0%).
Table 6 Cause of death in homicide incidents by type of homicide, 2008–10
Domestic homicide
(n=185)
Acquaintance homicide
(n=191)
Stranger homicide
(n=66)
n % n % n %
Stab wounds 79 43 80 42 17 26
Beatings 36 19 49 26 34 52
Gunshot wounds 19 10 26 14 5 8
Criminal neglect 2 1 1 1 0 0
Pushed from high place 0 0 0 0 0 0
Strangulation/suffocation 17 9 7 4 0 0
Poisoning 1 1 0 0 0 0
Smoke inhalation/burns 6 3 1 1 0 0
Other (eg hit by car/shaking) 2 1 8 4 7 11
Drowning 4 2 2 1 0 0
Not stated/unknown 19 10 17 9 3 5

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: ABS 2010; AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Since the NHMP began in 1989–90, homicides resulting from the use of a firearm have decreased (see Figure 9). For example, 25 percent of homicides in 1989–90 (n=76) were known to have involved the use of a firearm while in 2009–10, firearms were used in only 12 percent (n=31) of homicide incidents. Conversely, the proportion of homicides involving knives has increased from 30 percent to 41 percent in the last 10 years of monitoring (see Figure 9).

Figure 9 Weapon use in homicide incidents by year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (%)

Weapon use in homicide incidents by year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (%)

Source: AIC NHMP 1989–90 to 2009–10 [computer file]

Finally, continuing a recent trend, the proportion of firearm-related homicides involving handguns has again declined in 2008–09 and 2009–10 (see Figure 10). According to the most recent data, only 13 percent of those firearms used in homicide were handguns, down from 55 percent in 2005–06.

Figure 10 Handgun use in homicide incidents by year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (%)

Handgun use in homicide incidents by year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (%)

Source: AIC NHMP 1989–90 to 2009–10 [computer file]

Motive

Ascribing motivation to homicides can assist in understanding the factors or situations that are likely to have precipitated a homicide event. Yet assigning a single reason or motive to a homicide incident is difficult because the reasons, or lack thereof, may be varied and complicated.

Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, the motive most frequently recorded in the NHMP was an unspecified domestic argument (19%; see Table 7). This was not unexpected given domestic homicides represented the largest proportion of homicides throughout that period. The next most commonly recorded motives were other argument (short-term argument; n=68; 14%), alcohol-related arguments (n=45; 9%), incidents related to drugs (n=32; 6%), money (n=29; 6%) and revenge (n=25; 5%). The least common recorded motives for a homicide were racial and sexual vilification, each accounting for only one percent of homicides each (n=4 and n=7 respectively). Approximately one in 10 (n=59; 12%) homicide incidents did not have an apparent or identifiable motive.

Table 7 Apparent motive in homicides by victims and incidents, 2008–10
Victims (n) Incidents (n) Incidents (%)a
Revenge 26 25 5
Jealousy 17 17 3
Desertion/termination 11 11 2
Domestic argument 101 98 19
Money 30 29 6
Drugs 33 32 6
Racial vilification 4 4 1
Alcohol-related argument 45 45 9
Other argument 75 68 14
Sexual vilification 6 7 1
No apparent motive/unknown/not recorded 68 59 12

a: Percentages may not total 100 due to double counting

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Differentiating motive by homicide type (see Table 8) showed that:

  • almost half of all domestic homicides (49%) were classified as having been motivated by a domestic argument of an unspecified nature, while one in three (33%) were recorded as having no apparent or unknown motive and 10 (5%) were motivated by the termination of a relationship;
  • drug (n=25; 13%), alcohol-related (n=23; 12%), money (n=19; 10%), revenge (n=15; 8%) and other unspecified arguments (n=41; 21%) were most commonly recorded for homicides involving friends and acquaintances;
  • 17 homicides occurred as a result of jealousy—11 of which were between acquaintances, four were domestic and two were stranger homicides;
  • three homicides were known to have occurred as a result of racial vilification, all of which involved strangers; and
  • the highest proportion of known motives precipitating a homicide were domestic arguments (n=96; 19%) and ‘other’ (n=64; 13%) arguments.
Table 8 Apparent motive in homicide incidents by type of homicide, 2008–10
Domestic homicide
(n=185)
Acquaintance homicide
(n=191)
Stranger homicide
(n=66)
n % n % n %
Revenge 3 2 15 8 4 6
Jealousy 4 2 11 6 2 3
Desertion/termination 10 5 1 1 0 0
Domestic argument 90 49 6 3 0 0
Money 2 1 19 10 6 9
Drugs 1 1 25 13 2 3
Racial vilification 0 0 0 0 3 5
Alcohol-related argument 5 3 23 12 13 20
Other argument 9 5 41 21 14 21
Sexual vilification 0 0 2 1 3 5
No apparent motive/unknown/not recordeda 61 33 48 25 19 29

a: 68 incidents were excluded because the motive of the offender was unknown

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to double counting

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Other situational factors

For the current two years of data collection, more than one in 10 (n=67; 13%) of all homicide incidents occurred during the course of, or as a result of, another crime. Of these, the most prominent precipitating offences were violent crimes such as assault (n=15; 3%), followed by robbery (n=13; 2%) and drug offences (n=11; 2%). Although not as frequent, it is worth noting that there were four homicides for which the police identified sexual assault as a precipitating offence (1%).

Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, alcohol consumption, either by the victim or the offender, preceded nearly half of all homicide incidents (n=238; 47%). In the majority of incidents, both the victim and the offender were known to have been drinking. By homicide type (see Figure 11), alcohol consumption by the victim was more commonly recorded for acquaintance homicides (46%) than for stranger (18%) or domestic (26%) homicides. By contrast, alcohol consumption by an offender was relatively evenly distributed between acquaintance (43%) and domestic (36%) homicides.

Figure 11 Alcohol involvement in homicide incidents by type of homicide, 2008–10 (%)

Alcohol involvement in homicide incidents by type of homicide, 2008–10 (%)

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

The NHMP relies on toxicology reports from the coroner to determine whether the victim had alcohol in their system. It is not possible based on post-mortem toxicology screening to determine the level of intoxication, as different people metabolise alcohol at different rates and some individuals can develop a tolerance to the effects of alcohol. Nevertheless, these data are useful to indicate whether the victim had consumed alcohol and/or illicit drugs prior to the incident.

Illicit drug use was known to have preceded one in five (n=101; 20%) homicide incidents between 2008–09 and 2009–10, of which, the victim’s use of illicit drugs (n=96; 19%) was more prominently identified than the offender’s (n=78; 15%, see Table 9). However, as has been the case in previous NHMP annual reports, it is important to note that illicit drug use by the victim is more easily identified through post-mortem toxicological tests, whereas for the offender, identification of drug use is based on the subjective assessment of the investigating officers, for which there is not usually any toxicological confirmation via objective testing.

Table 9 Situational factors in homicide incidents, 2008–10
n %
Alcohol
Victim drinking 179 35
Offender drinking 188 37
Any alcohol use 238 47
Drugs
Victim used drugs 96 19
Offender used drugs 78 15
Any drug use 101 20
Precipitating crime
Robbery 13 2
Sexual assault 4 1
Other violent crime 15 3
Drug offences 11 2
Any precipitating crime 65 13

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Homicide victims

In the 510 homicide incidents recorded throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, 541 people were killed. In total, 26 homicide incidents involved the death of more than one victim—23 incidents involved two victims, two incidents involved three victims and one incident involved four or more victims (see Table B1).

Victim sex

Of the 541 victims killed throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, 366 were male (68%) and 175 were female (32%; see Table B3). The overrepresentation of men as victims of homicide has been a consistent finding since data were first captured in the NHMP in 1989–90 and is also consistent with the international literature on homicide (Brookman 2005; Flowers 2002; Miethe & Regoeczi 2004; Polk 1994).

After standardising the total number of victims in 2009–10 against the most recent Australian population estimates, it was found that there were 1.66 male and 0.85 female homicide victims per 100,000 of the population (see Figure 12). Despite a slight increase from 2008–09 (from 0.73 to 0.85) the current female homicide victimisation rates is nevertheless 50 percent lower than its peak in 1990–91. Similarly, the rate of male homicide victimisation has also decreased by approximately 35 percent since the NHMP began in 1989–90.

Figure 12 Victimisation rate by sex, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (rate per 100,000)

Victimisation rate by sex, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (rate per 100,000)

Source: ABS 2010; AIC NHMP 1989–90 to 2009–10 [computer file]

The representation of male and female homicide victims varies depending on the type of homicide (see Table 10). Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, 194 victims were killed by an offender with whom they shared a principal domestic relationship, of which close to two in five (n=75; 39%) of these victims were male, while approximately three in five (n=116; 61%) were female.

Table 10 Type of homicide by sex of victims, 2008–10
Male
(n=366)
Female
(n=175)
n % n %
Domestic
Intimate partner 33 27 89 73
Filicide 13 48 14 52
Parricide 11 55 9 45
Siblicide 3 60 2 40
Other family homicide 15 88 2 12
Subtotal 75 39a 116 61a
Acquaintance homicide 173 86 28 14
Stranger homicide 56 78 16 22
Unclassified 62 81 15 19

a: Percentages calculated from subtotal and associated n total value

Note: Percentages are calculated for the sex differences within in each incident type (row percent)

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Overall, 61 percent of all female homicide victims (n=116) killed throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10 were killed by an offender with whom they shared a domestic relationship, while a greater number of male homicide victims were killed by a friend or an acquaintance (n=173; 86%) than by someone with whom they shared a domestic relationship (n=75; 39%).

Consistent with previous NHMP annual reports, females were overrepresented as victims in intimate partner homicide (n=89; 73% of intimate partner homicides), while males were more highly represented in homicides involving friends or acquaintances (n=173; 86% of acquaintance homicides) or strangers (n=56; 78% of stranger homicides).

Victim age

The average age of victims killed throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10 was 38.6 years (see Table 11). There was little difference in the average age of male and female victims (38.2 and 39.2 years, respectively). The youngest victims were under one year of age, of which there were seven males and five females. Conversely, the oldest known victim was 98 years.

Approximately nine percent (n=49) of the victims killed throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10 were children under the age of 18 years (see Table 11). The majority of those children were aged between one and nine years (n=19; 4% of all homicides). Overall, there were more male victims (n=30) under 18 years than female victims (n=19).

Table 11 Age of homicide victims by sex, 2008–10
Male victims
(n=366)
Female victims
(n=175)
All victims
(n=541)
Years of age n %a n %a n %a
Under 1 7 2 5 3 12 2
1–9 11 3 8 5 19 4
10–14 5 1 3 2 8 1
15–17 7 2 3 2 10 2
18–24 53 14 16 9 69 13
25–34 81 22 38 22 119 22
35–49 111 30 55 31 166 31
50–64 58 16 16 9 74 14
65+ 31 8 26 15 57 11
Totalb 366 175 541  
Mean age 38.2 39.2 38.6
Median age 37 37.5 37

a: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

b: Includes 7 cases with no age identified

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

The average age of homicide victims varied according to the homicide relationship classification (see Figure 13). For the different types of domestic homicide, the average age varied from as low as 8.8 years for victims of filicides (who are typically aged under 18 years), to as high as 61.4 years for parricides (typically parents killed by an adult child). Apart from parricide, the next highest average age of death was 47.6 years for victims of ‘other’ family homicide. For other homicide types, the average victim age was:

  • 42.1 years for intimate partner;
  • 40.2 years for strangers;
  • 31 years for siblicides; and
  • 38.3 years for friends and acquaintances.
Figure 13 Age of homicide victims by type of homicide, 2008–10 (mean age in years)

Age of homicide victims by type of homicide, 2008–10 (mean age in years)

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Victim’s Indigenous status

Of the 541 homicide victims killed throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, 60 (11%) were identified as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Of these victims, 34 were males (57%) and 26 were females (43%; see Table B7). Just over half (n=33; 55%) of Indigenous homicide victims were killed in a domestic homicide, of which the most common subcategory was intimate partner homicide (n=25; 42%; see Table 12). Just over one-quarter (n=17; 28%) of Indigenous victims were killed by an acquaintance or close friend. The frequency of stranger-related homicides has remained consistently low and at times non-existent since the data collection began. As noted, two in every five Indigenous victims were female (43%), which is higher than the equivalent proportion of female non-Indigenous homicides (31%; see Figure 14).

Table 12 Indigenous status of homicide victims by type of homicide, 2008–10
Indigenous (n=60) Non-Indigenousa (n=481)
n % n %
Domestic
Intimate partner 25 42 97 20
Filicide 2 3 25 5
Parricide 2 3 18 4
Siblicide 1 2 4 1
Other family homicide 3 5 14 3
Subtotal 33 55b 158 33b
Acquaintance homicide 17 28 184 38
Stranger homicide 4 7 68 14
Unclassified 6 10 71 15

a: Includes victims where Indigenous status was not recorded

b: Percentages calculated from subtotal and associated n total value

Note: Percentages are calculated for the sex differences within in each incident type (row percent)

Source: ABS 2010, 2009, AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Figure 14 Indigenous status of homicide victims by sex, 2008–10 (%)

Indigenous status of homicide victims by sex, 2008–10 (%)

Source: ABS 2010, 2009, AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

According to standardised homicide rates for the most recent year of data, Indigenous Australians remain overrepresented as victims of homicide. In 2009–10, there were approximately four (4.1 per 100,000) Indigenous homicide victims per 100,000 of the Indigenous population (3.5 per 100,000 for women and 4.6 per 100,000 for men; see Figure 15). This is approximately four times higher than the equivalent victimisation rate for non-Indigenous Australians (1.1 per 100,000; 0.7 per 100,000 for women and 1.5 per 100,000 for men).

Figure 15 Indigenous homicide victimisation by sex and year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (rate per 100,000)

Indigenous homicide victimisation by sex and year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (rate per 100,000)

Source: ABS 2009; AIC NHMP 1989–90 to 2009–10 [computer file]

In trend terms, the rate of Indigenous victimisation for both males and females has continued to decline steadily since 2001–02. Indigenous male victimisation reached an historical low of 4.6 per 100,000 in 2009–10, approximately 72 percent lower than at its highest point in 1993–94 (16.2 per 100,000). Similarly, the rate of homicide victimisation among Indigenous women also reached an historic low of 3.5 per 100,000, approximately 74 percent lower than its peak in 1990–91 (13.5 per 100,000).

Victim’s employment status

Among the 541 homicide victims killed throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, information concerning employment status was known for 415 individuals (77%; see Table 13). Of these victims, more were employed (n=181; 44%) than unemployed (n=98; 24%), studying (n=26; 6%), undertaking domestic duties (n=17; 4%) or not working but receiving the aged or disability pension (n=93; 22%).

Table 13 Employment status of homicide victims by sex, 2008–10
Male victims
(n=279)
Female victims
(n=136)
All victims
(n=415)a
n % n % n %
Studying 15 5 11 8 26 6
Unemployed 77 28 21 15 98 24
Home/domestic duties 1 0 16 12 17 4
Age, disability or sole parent pension 59 21 34 25 93 22
Employedb 127 46 54 40 181 44

a: Employment status was not available 87 male and 39 female victims

b: 2 employed victims were on leave

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Proportionally, male victims were more likely than female victims to have been employed (46% cf 40%), while female victims were more likely to be studying, undertaking domestic duties or to have been receiving an aged, sole parent or disability pension. Conversely, unemployment was much higher among male victims (28% cf 15%). By age, victims aged 35–49 years were most likely to be recorded as unemployed when compared with all other age categories (see Figure 16).

Figure 16 Employment status of homicide victims by age group in years, 2008–10 (%)

Employment status of homicide victims by age group in years, 2008–10 (%)

Note: ‘Other’ includes studying, domestic duties and age or disability welfare recipients

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Homicide offenders

Of the 510 homicide incidents recorded throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, 46 had not been solved or had no identified offender at the time of publication. Of the remaining 464 incidents, 407 incidents had one offender (88%), 40 incidents had two offenders (9%), 16 incidents had three offenders (3%) and 15 had four or more offenders (3%). Overall, the details of 611 offenders were recorded in the NHMP for homicides throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10 (see Table C1).

Between 2008–09 and 2009–10, homicides involving multiple offenders were more prevalent among strangers (30%) than among those who were in a domestic relationship (4%) or acquaintances (16%; see Table 14). In 2008–09 and 2009–10, 31 acquaintance homicides were known to have involved more than one offender—19 involved two offenders, while 12 involved three or more offenders. Overall, domestic homicide incidents were those least likely to have involved multiple offenders (n=7). Similar to recent trends, 100 percent of filicides (includes those where the victim was under 1 year of age) and siblicides recorded in 2008–09 and 2009–10 involved only one offender.

Table 14 Number of offenders in homicide incident by principal incident classification, 2008–10
One offender Two offenders Three or more offenders
n % n % n %
Domestic
Intimate partner 118 97 2 2 2 2
Filicide 22 100 0 0 0 0
Parricide 19 95 1 5 0 0
Siblicide 4 100 0 0 0 0
Other family homicide 15 88 1 6 1 6
Subtotal 178 96 4 2 3 2
Acquaintance homicide 160 84 19 10 12 6
Stranger homicide 46 70 8 12 12 18
Totala 407 85 40 8 31 6

a: Includes incidents that could not be classified because the relationship between the victim and the offender was unknown. Percentages are calculated for incidents where at least 1 offender was identified (n=478—1 offender n=23, 2 offenders n=9 and 3 or more offenders n=4)

Note: An incident is classified by the principle relationship. For multiple offender homicides, this is the closest relationship between any 1 of the offenders and victims

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Sex of offenders

Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, there were 538 male offenders (88%), 71 female offenders and two offenders for whom sex was not recorded (12%; see Table C3). This is consistent with historical trends that have seen males comprise more than 80 percent of all known homicide offenders. Males comprised the highest annual proportion recorded in 2008–09 (91%) and the lowest in 2006–07 (82%).

The rate of offending, calculated as the estimated number of known offenders per 100,000 of the Australian population, showed relative stability among the female population (approximately 0.4 per 100,000). For males, however, the rate of offending has continued to decline (see Figure 17). In 2008–09 and 2009–10, there was an estimated 2.5 male homicide offenders per 100,000. This figure has decreased by approximately 34 percent from a peak of 3.8 per 100,000 in 1992–93.

Figure 17 Offending rate by sex and year, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (per 100,000)

Source: ABS 2010; AIC NHMP 1989–90 to 2009–10 [computer file]

Offender age

The average age of all known homicide offenders throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10 was 33.2 years (see Table 15). There was a relatively even distribution of offenders across the age range from 18 to 49 years. The average age of offenders has remained relatively stable since the NHMP commenced, with a modest decrease in mean age between 1989–90 (36 years) and 2009–10 (33 years).

Overall, there were only 15 (3%) offenders above the age of 65 years, the oldest being 92 years. Conversely, there were 38 offenders under 18 years, only one of which was a female. Most of these younger offenders were aged between 15 and 17 years (n=32; 5%), while six offenders were located within the 10–14 year age cohort (1%). The youngest offender was 12 years old at the time of the incident.

Since 2007–08, there has been a slight increase in the average age of male offenders (32.7 cf 31.7 years), while the average age of female offenders has increased considerably by almost five years (37.8 cf 33.1 years; see Table 15). Further, although there were more male offenders above the age of 65 years (n=12; 2%), there were proportionately more female offenders aged 65 years and older (n=3; 4%). It should be noted that female offender data is more significantly affected by changes in offender demographics due to the relatively low numbers of female offenders.

Table 15 Homicide offender age in years by sex, 2008–10 (n)a
Male offenders Female offenders All offendersb
Years of age n % n % n %
Under 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
1–9 0 0 0 0 0 0
10–14 6 1 0 0 6 1
15–17 31 6 1 1 32 5
18–24 136 26 6 9 142 24
25–34 135 26 22 32 157 27
35–49 149 29 29 43 178 30
50–64 47 9 7 10 54 9
65+ 12 2 3 4 15 3
Total 516 68 584  
Mean age 32.7 37.8 33.2
Median age 29 38 30

a: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

b: Data excludes offenders whose age was not reported

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Offender Indigenous status

Consistent with historical trends, Indigenous Australians were again overrepresented among homicide offenders throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10 (see Figure 18). During this period, Indigenous Australians comprised 13 percent of the overall proportion of offenders, resulting in a rate of offending that was five times higher (7.1 per 100,000), when compared with the equivalent homicide rate of 1.3 per 100,000 among the non-Indigenous population.

Figure 18 Indigenous homicide offending by sex, 1989–90 to 2009–10 (rate per 100,000)

Source: ABS 2009; AIC NHMP 1989–90 to 2009–10 [computer file]

As with their non-Indigenous counterparts, Indigenous offenders were more likely to be male (n=69; 85%) than female (n=12; 15%; see Table C7). Both male and female Indigenous offenders were overrepresented; however, the extent of overrepresentation was greatest among the Indigenous male population. For example, during the 2009–10 reporting period, the rate of offending among Indigenous males was close to six times (12.8 cf 2.2 per 100,000) higher than among non-Indigenous males. By contrast, the rate of offending among the Indigenous female population was less pronounced, although still more than three times higher than the non-Indigenous female population (1.4 cf 0.4 per 100,000).

Despite these results, the overall rate of offending for both male and female Indigenous offenders has decreased, with the overall rate reaching an historic low of 7.1 offenders per 100,000. The decline in the offending rate in recent years has been most pronounced for female Indigenous offenders.

Most Indigenous offenders killed a victim who was also identified as an Indigenous person (n=47; 58%). This was evident for both Indigenous female offenders (n=7; 58%) and for Indigenous male offenders (n=40; 58%). The types of homicides committed by Indigenous male offenders were more varied. For example, of the known relationships, 46 percent killed a family member (n=32), 29 percent killed a friend or acquaintance (n=20) and 22 percent killed a stranger (n=15). Two homicides involving male Indigenous offenders could not be classified because the relationship to the victim was not known at the time of reporting. For Indigenous female offenders, 83 percent of homicides (n=10) were classified as domestic-related, while only two incidents (17%) were classified as acquaintance homicides.

Offender criminal history

Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, more than two in five (n=277; 45%) offenders had a prior criminal history involving at least one conviction (see Table 16). The remaining 55 percent of offenders (n=334) did not have a known recorded criminal history.

Table 16 Prior criminal history of homicide offenders by sex, 2008–10
Male offenders
(n=538)
Female offenders
(n=71)
All offenders
(n=611)
n % n % n %
Murder 15 3 0 0 15 2
Sexual assault 14 3 0 0 14 2
Other assault 139 26 13 18 152 25
Robbery 9 2 1 1 10 2
Drug offences 34 6 5 7 39 6
Property offences 21 4 3 4 24 4
Other offences 21 4 2 3 23 4
Any criminal history 253 47 24 34 277 45
No known criminal historya, b 285 53 47 66 334 55

a: Includes homicide offenders who had no stated and no prior criminal history

b: Data excludes 334 offenders whose criminal history was not reported

Note: Percentages may not total due to rounding

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

For both male and female offenders with a prior criminal conviction, ‘other’ assault (n=152; 25%) was the single most commonly recorded offence (26% for males and 18% for females; see Table 16). Although considerably less frequent, drug offences (n=39; 6%) were the next most commonly recorded, followed by property offences (n=24; 4%). Fifteen males (3%) had a prior conviction for a separate homicide incident, while a further 14 male offenders (3%) had a prior conviction for a sexual assault. Overall, male offenders (47%) were much more likely than female offenders (34%) to have a prior criminal history.

By age, offenders aged between 35–49 years (54%) were most likely to have a prior criminal history, followed by those aged 25–34 years (49%) and 18–24 (47%). Conversely, none of the 15 offenders over the age of 65 years had a prior criminal conviction.

Figure 19 Homicide offenders with prior criminal history by age group in years, 2008–10 (%)a

Homicide offenders with prior criminal history by age group in years, 2008–10

a: Data excludes 26 offenders whose age was not reported

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Offender employment status

With regards to employment, the status of 430 homicide offenders was recorded. The remaining 177 offenders’ employment status was not stated or known to the police at the time of reporting (see Table C6). Of those whose employment status was known, just over one in three (n=156; 36%; see Table 17) were employed; over two in every five were unemployed (n=182, 42) and almost one in 10 were studying (n=36; 8%). Only a small proportion of offenders were undertaking domestic duties (n=10; 2%).

Congruent with historical trends, the overall prevalence of unemployment among homicide offenders remains greater among male offenders compared with female offenders (43% cf 38%; see Table 17). Women were more likely than men to be undertaking domestic duties (12% cf 1%) at the time of the incident.

Table 17 Employment status of homicide offenders by sex, 2008–10a
Male offenders
(n=378)
Female offenders
(n=52)
All offenders
(n=430)a
n % n % n %
Studying 33 9 3 6 36 8
Unemployed 162 43 20 38 182 42
Home/domestic duties 4 1 6 12 10 2
Age, disability or sole parent pension 36 10 10 19 46 11
Employed 143 38 13 25 156 36

a: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

b: Employment status was not available 158 males and 19 female victims

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Offender suicide

Of the 611 homicide offenders identified in 2008–09 and 2009–10, 20 committed suicide (3%) at the time or shortly after the incident. All of these offenders were male. All but one (n=19) offender committed suicide prior to their arrest, while one offender committed suicide after being arrested, either in police custody or while on bail. Most of those who committed suicide did so following a domestic homicide (n=16), particularly intimate partner homicides (n=12). A further four offenders committed suicide as a result of a filicide, while the remaining domestic homicide-related suicides occurred after the offender killed some other family member.

Familicide is a term used to describe a special case of domestic homicide where the offender not only kills the children in the family, but also their intimate partner and themselves (suicide). Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, there was only one homicide involving the death of both an intimate partner and a child; however, in that case, the offender did not commit suicide following the incident.

Figure 20 Employment status of homicide offenders by age group in years, 2008–10 (%)

Source: AIC NHMP 2008–10 [computer file]

Conclusion

A key function of the NHMP is to communicate the most current data and most recent assessments of homicide to key stakeholders, namely state and territory police services, local, state and federal levels of governments, non-government organisations, research agencies and the general public. NHMP records can support jurisdictions by helping to develop an in-depth understanding of specific types of homicide. Jurisdictions are able to access to longitudinal patterns in lethal violence to identify shifts in victimisation, offender trends and changes in the circumstances and characteristics of homicide incidents (such as a decrease in firearm homicides). Data from the NHMP also provide important guidance in the development of policy and strategic direction in diverse fields such as community services, mental health, courts and correctional institutions.

Despite a slight increase in the number of homicide victims over the last two financial years, the overall national rate of victimisation has been on a downward trend since 2001–02 and at 1.2 homicides per 100,000 persons, is currently at its lowest since NHMP was initiated in 1989–90.

Specifically findings for 2008–09 and 2009–10 show that:

  • Males continued to be overrepresented as both the victims and perpetrators of offences.
  • Since the last NHMP annual report (2007–08), there was a slight increase in the average age of male offenders (33.2 cf 31.7), while the average age of female offenders has increased considerably by almost five years (37.8 cf 33.1).

The proportion of domestic homicides has fallen considerably and has reached an historic low in recent years. It would appear that the 2007–08 finding that 52 percent of homicides were domestic related was a statistical anomaly from what has otherwise been a downward trend. However, this finding may change somewhat when the victim/offender relationships in the currently unclassified cases (a higher proportion in the current reporting period than in previous years) become known.

Of the domestic homicides recorded in the NHMP, the majority were classified as an intimate partner homicide. The frequency of intimate partner homicides has remained stable and while, overall, female victims are not as prevalent as males, they remain overrepresented in this category of homicide.

  • Homicide incidents involving two or more offenders were most common in acquaintance (n=31) and stranger homicides (n=20) throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10.
  • Of all the homicide victims throughout the 2008–09 and 2009–10 financial years, 60 were identified as Indigenous Australians—34 males and 26 females. The rate of Indigenous homicide victimisation was four times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians, although these results varied significantly by sex. Indigenous males for example were three times more likely (4.6 per 100,000) than non-Indigenous males to be victims of homicide. Indigenous females were five times more likely (3.5 per 100,000) to be victims than non-Indigenous females.
  • Fifty-five percent of all Indigenous homicide victims were killed in a domestic homicide, of which the most common subcategory was intimate partner homicide (n=25; 42%).

The rate of Indigenous victimisation reached its lowest point for both males and females in 2009–10.

  • Forty-nine homicide victims were aged 17 years or younger, while 38 children aged 17 years or younger were identified as homicide offenders. Most child homicide offenders committed the offence with at least one other offender.

Firearms involvement in homicide followed historical trends as their use (and in particular the use of handguns) continues to decrease. By contrast, the use of knives/sharp instruments has increased over time and is the most common weapon used in homicide incidents, with the current proportion of deaths caused by stab wounds (41%) coming close to its previous peak (43%). The use of knives/sharp instruments was particularly prevalent in domestic and acquaintance homicides.

  • More than one in 10 (n=13; 3%) homicide incidents were committed during the course of another crime. ‘Other’ violent crimes (n=15; 3%) was the crime type most likely to precede such homicides.
  • More than two in every four homicide offenders had a previous criminal conviction (45%). Male offenders (47%) were more likely to have a conviction history than female offenders (34%).
  • Twenty homicide offenders committed suicide following the homicide incident (3%) and most committed suicide following a domestic homicide.
  • Throughout 2008–09 and 2009–10, alcohol consumption, either by the victim or the offender, preceded nearly half of all homicide incidents (n=238; 47%), while illicit drug use was known to have preceded one in five (n=101; 20%).