A Coroner's report has concluded the deaths an elderly Bacchus Marsh couple in 2018 was a murder-suicide.
The final report found 91-year-old Arthur Smith killed his wife Gwen, also 91, shot his wife before killing himself at their farm in Parwan in July 2018.
They were found deceased by their adult grandchildren the morning after the incident, at which time police began a coronial investigation.
The circumstances leading up to the incident led State Coroner Judge John Cain to conclude it was an act of family violence - Mr Smith had recently been discharged from hospital following complications after surgery, and there were "significant relationship stressors".
The couple had refused to be moved from their farm, where they had lived for more than 60 years, to residential aged care, the report states.
Mr Smith was "concerned he was losing his independence," according to a home support assessor who visited the day before the incident, and while Mrs Smith was on medication, she was in "reasonable health" at the time.
There was no evidence of prior family violence concerns.
"The available evidence suggests that in the years prior to the fatal incident, Mr and Mrs Smith had struggled financially and with the upkeep of their property and home, due to their age and the condition of the property," His Honour Judge Cain wrote.
He was "satisfied to the coronial standard that Mr Smith was capable of the actions necessary to cause Mrs Smith's death and that he then ... intentionally took his own life".
Research suggests these incidents can be "consensually agreed on", particularly when debilitating illness or unfavourable living conditions are involved, but "police investigations into the death of Mr and Mrs Smith, however, found no indication that Mrs Smith was aware or agreeable to Mr Smith's actions".
He noted research into intimate partner homicide-suicides has identified a "unique set of characteristics ... amongst elderly couples", which this incident was consistent with.
"Findings indicate that individuals amongst this population have often been married for many decades, may have been suffering from a significant illness at the time of the fatal incident, and may have been experiencing financial problems and/or social isolation," he wrote.
"I convey my sincere condolences to Mr and Mrs Smith's family for their loss."
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, phone Lifeline 13 11 14.
Help is also available, but not limited, via the following organisations. The key message is you are not alone.
- Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au
- Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467
- Mensline: 1300 789 978 or mensline.org.au
- Survivors of Suicide: 0449 913 535
- Relationships Australia: 1800 050 321
- headspace Ballarat (for 12-25s and parent support): 5304 4777
- Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
- Soldier On: 1300 620 380
- Ballarat Community Health: 5338 4500
- QLife: 1800 184 527 (Support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people)
- Family violence: 1800 RESPECT
- Veterans support: Open Arms on 1800 011 046 or openarms.gov.au
- Ballarat Mental Health Services: 5320 4100 or after hours on 1300 247 647
- For Aboriginal crisis support: Yarning SafeNStrong, 1800 959 563 (24/7)
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