Family massacre: ‘The girls had no chance’
"I'm going to take the lot of ya's out."
They're the last words Ann Gannan remembers hearing from her daughter Kerryann's ex-partner Malcolm Baker before he delivered on his promise and went on a killing spree on the night of October 27, 1992.
It's been 25 years since the massacre, in which six people and two unborn children were killed, in three different locations on the NSW Central Coast.
Ann, now 64, remembers it like it was yesterday but hasn't told the full story publicly until now.
Avoca Nursing home worker Kerryann, 23, had fled an abusive relationship with Baker, 43 at the time, and moved in with her younger sister Lisa, 18, in a two-storey brick home on Barnhill Rd in Terrigal.
It sent Baker, a control freak with a hot temper and penchant for violence, into a spin. Kerryann took out a restraining order on him. But the unemployed mechanic continued to taunt the Gannan family and anyone associated with them.
"He tried to run me over. I thought, 'You rotten sod,'" Ann told news.com.au of her last encounter with Baker prior to the murders in Terrigal.
"Then he called out something like: 'I'm going to take the lot of yas out,' and I really panicked then. I went back to Lisa and told her and we were all scared."
Just weeks later, Kerryann - along with Lisa and her unborn child, and the sisters' father Thomas, 43, - were murdered in the very home she had sought refuge.
The horror started to unfold when Baker smashed through a front window with the handle of a 12-gauge sawn off shotgun around 9pm.
Kerryann and her new 22-year-old boyfriend Chris Gall - who had been watching television together in her bedroom - ran for their lives. But they didn't get far until Baker opened fire on them.
THE SOLE SURVIVOR
Chris - who was shot in the face but survived - later told police in his official statement that "the rifle came through the door and I saw this bloke there and the gun was up close". He declined to comment when contacted by our sister paper news.com.au.
"He pumped the action, dropped the gun on me and shot me. I couldn't see. I couldn't move, only hear," he said.
"All I could pick up was Kerry saying, 'What have you done? What are you doing?'
"Then Baker said: 'I told you it wouldn't stop me. I told you I'd do it.'
"I heard Kerry say, 'Just kill me.'"
But Baker wasn't seeking permission to kill and had already made up his mind about who was going to die that night. Moments later he carried out the first part of his deadly plan.
"He ... shot Chris and then Kerryann (as they were) coming out, she was trying get away when he shot her in the back of her head," Ann said.
"He went up the back stairs and had an altercation with Tom in the kitchen and shot Tom."
Baker then turned his gun on Lisa, who was eight months pregnant at the time, and asleep on the lounge.
"He shot her in the face," Ann said.
"She was such a pretty girl."
Ann said Baker had "made it very hard" for her to communicate with Kerryann prior to the murders and they had fallen out when she expressed her concerns about his abusive behaviour. It was one of the last things on the young cook's mind before she slipped away.
"Young Chris (on) the night of the murders ... crawled up through the hallway where he was ... and grabbed (Kerryann's) hands and her eyes were fluttering," Ann said.
"And (she told him) she loved mum and she wanted to make peace and then she died."
In the meantime, Baker had wandered outside, where he found Thomas sprawled out on the front lawn after having been shot in the shoulder and trying to seek help.
"He was a really good dad ... (Baker) wasn't happy just to leave him there and he was shooting him in the face," Ann said.
"Nobody has the right to take someone's life.
"They were young girls, and (Tom) was a dad who wanted to enjoy his kids."
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
'HE KILLED HIS OWN SON, FOR GOD'S SAKE'
As neighbours frantically called police after hearing the gunshots, Baker jumped in a getaway car he had parked in the driveway earlier.
He drove to his son David Baker's house on Sherwood Close in Bateau Bay, about 10km away. David, 27, walked outside when he realised he had a visitor. His father immediately shot him in the back of the head at point-blank range.
"(Baker) killed his own son for God's sake," Ann said.
"He was sick."
But Baker wasn't done yet. He got back into his car and continued on to an address on the Pacific Hwy in Wyong where he kicked down the front door and fatally shot Leslie Read, 25, in the chest.
Leslie was reportedly pregnant at the time of her death. He then charged into the bathroom where he found his main target, Ross Smith, 35, in the bath and shot him dead.
Baker had blamed Mr Smith for a failed business deal that caused him to lose the deposit for a house he planned to lure Kerryann to in a bid to keep her from the influence of her family. And so he sought the ultimate revenge.
It was around 10pm and Baker had murdered six people and two unborn children within an hour.
Baker reportedly had a hit list that included family members in Sydney he planned to wipe out.
Mike Gallacher - who was a senior detective at Gosford Police Station on the night of the massacre - told The Daily Telegraph that Baker "was on a path of destruction to shoot and kill anyone he thought had wronged him".
"Baker's intentions were to travel to Sydney to continue to wipe out the rest of the family," Mr Gallacher told the newspaper.
But the killer decided to first pay a visit to his friend John Thompson, who lived in the nearby suburb of Toukley. Thompson encouraged Baker to hand himself in, and within two hours of his first murder, the killer walked into Toukley Police Station and surrendered.
Ann said she wants her daughters to be remembered as "beautiful people" who would "do anything for anybody".
"They were good girls and I'm very proud of them, for what life they had, I was the lucky one. "(It was) a short ... but by God I had a bloody ball with them."
She plans to visit their graves, which are side-by-side with their father's in a Sydney cemetery, this weekend. It's a trip the Central Coast resident has made many times over the past 25 years to "talk to (her) girls".
"To me it's a grave but they're there," Ann said.
"It's the only time I can really feel close to them."
BEHIND BARS WITH IVAN MILAT
Baker was committed to stand trial and on August 6, 1993, and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for each of the six murders.
He was sent to Goulburn's Supermax jail, which backpacker serial killer Ivan Milat and gang rape leader Bilal Skaf also called home and was one of the first six inmates of the prison's High Risk Management Unit upon its creation in 2001. Prison documents leaked to news.com.au show that Baker was deemed to be a "high risk of conspiracy to assault, escape and hostage taking".
"Paranoid and aggressive state of mind," the 2008 document read.
"Lack of insight into own behaviour.
"Returned from Long Bay Hospital stabilised on Psychotropic medication."
Former inmate John Killick, a convicted bank robber who reached infamy when he escaped from Silverwater Prison in a hijacked helicopter, spent time behind bars with Baker and other notorious criminals.
"He was in Goulburn when I met him. He killed six people, he's quite mad. He was one of the guys I associated with while walking in the yard," Mr Killick told news.com.au last year.
"He got a bad bashing (in prison). The reason Baker would have got bashed is he tends to go off at the Aboriginal (inmates). He hates them. He's quite explosive. He was all right with me. But he had a hot temper."
NEW SOUTH WALES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES