May 14, 2018

How the media is covering (or not covering) the Margaret River tragedy

Aaron Cockman is being quoted as a "grieving father" now, but early reports painted him as a suspect. Why are we only hearing his version of events?

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran

Associate editor

Aaron Cockman, the father of four children killed near Margaret River, WA.

Imagine being in an Australian newsroom last Friday. News breaks of several bodies discovered at an idyllic rural property in WA. Editors throwing away the playbook for the day, journalists jumping in company cars and on flights to a town outside Margaret River. Most would know no one in the town, have very little context for the crimes and are told only what the police are willing to reveal. They also face pressure to capture the biggest mass shooting in Australia since the Port Arthur Massacre. 

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

22 thoughts on “How the media is covering (or not covering) the Margaret River tragedy

  1. The Curmudgeon

    Last para: “… until the case goes to trial”. What trial?
    Cockman’s references to Jehovah had me worried.

    1. MJM

      I agree. If Peter Miles shot his wife, daughter, four grandchildren and then himself who will face trial? At most there will be a coroner’s court inquiry.

      Cockman’s story may gloss over his own behaviour but that does not make his version of what happened on the morning of May 11th any less reliable.

    2. DF

      Same thought as you MJM – surely to the coroner, not the magistrate.
      Also, I question the use of “fulsomely” which generally means “abundant and cloying praise”. “Extensively” would have been a better adjective.

    3. Bhakthi Puvanenthiran

      Thanks for this comment — I’ve changed the reference as it will likely be a coronial enquiry.

      1. AR

        It is a Coroninquest when a death has occurred, not enquiry.

        1. AR

          ..a Coroner’s inquest.

  2. Steven Pecl

    But Mr Miles placed an emergency call notifying the police of his crimes. You are apparently suggesting the possibility that Mr Cockman killed his wife and kids, without leaving any forensic evidence of his involvement, then went to the house, killed Mr Mile’s wife and then managed to coerce him at gun point to call 000 to report the crimes without raising any suspicion during the phone call that he was under duress, and again without leaving any forensic evidence he was there at the scene or held the weapon. He probably also has a solid alibi otherwise he probably would be a suspect by now, given the evidence on FB and elsewhere that he was stalking and harassing his ex. Sorry, but I find this article premature and irresponsible.

    1. Srkiv

      The police have not explicity said who made the call and we are forbidden to hear it.

      A person can be a suspect without police declaring it. Cases can take years.

      1. Steven Pecl

        Well you better let The ABC know, because I read an article where they clearly outlined the polices suspected order of events of the deaths and alleged actions of Miles including at which point he made the call to police.

        1. Srkiv

          Oh Sherlock.

          Best learn a thing or two about p o l i c i n g.

          They may have solved the case, they may have new evidence come to light. But with all these live-and-die by the media sleuths we may never have a discussion.

  3. X Ray

    “A potent combination of factors has left us with … [whose?] version of events ?

  4. Sasha Meredyth

    Thanks for this piece. I recalled hearing comments from a neighbour to the effect that she could understand the father being responsible for this tragedy but not the grandfather. Then suddenly, the father is the hero. No doubt he is in pain but as you rightly say, we will need to wait for the coroner to learn more about the circumstances. This tragedy seems to defy what we know about keeping families safe – community support and connectedness, licensed firearms and a mother prepared to speak up when she feels threatened. Where to from here?

  5. Vasco

    I tuned out after the first reports knowing how we were going to be subjected to endless, speculative ramblings from baby
    journos dispatched by their masters to hang around for soundbites and photo ops and non insights from neighbours. This awful situation should be left alone until some actual facts emerge. That won’t happen because of the old saw “if it bleeds it leads”. Just stfu fits nicely.

  6. Rais

    This is a very strange article. It must have been written well after the police said they were not looking for a suspect. In the circumstances throwing suspicion at a family member the police say they don’t suspect and talking about a trial is not the standard of journalism expected from Crikey.

  7. Rob Gerrand

    If you are not suggesting that the father killed his wife, children and their grandfather – and no-one seems to be – then what is the point of dredging up the problems between the estranged spouses? It’s what the yellow press used to do, before you could distinguish the yellow press from other media. It’s not what I expect from crikey.

    1. Steve

      What’s more, he is a grieving father who has lost his four children. Whatever his other behaviour, does that really require an asterisk?

  8. [email protected]

    How can the detective say in his address 2 adults were found outside the home and make that ‘mistake’? Who said only the grandfather was outside? Was it Aaron Cookman? Why so quick to plan funerals? What about autopsies to see if they were drugged? To shoot one by one with time in between as a neighbour said when they heard shots? Were they still in their beds? Unlikely. This whole scenario is suss. From the outside it seems Mr Cockman has steered the media and police. IMO .

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details