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Stabbed father lived in fear of son's 'hair-trigger rage', court told

A prominent Sydney art curator who was stabbed to death by his son lived in constant fear of the disturbed young man, who had a "hair-trigger rage" and would go berserk for little or no reason, the NSW Coroner's Court has heard.

The comments were made by the former partner of Nicholas Waterlow, 68, during the inquest into his death and that of his daughter, Chloe Heuston, 36, at the hands of his son, Anthony Waterlow, at their Randwick home in 2009.

Anthony, 45, was found not guilty of murder in the NSW Supreme Court by reason of mental illness in 2011.

During emotional testimony at the inquest on Friday, Mr Waterlow's partner, Juliet Darling, said that from the first time she met Anthony, she saw that he was "extremely resentful towards his father" and "blamed him for everything".

"Nick was very frightened of Anthony," she said. "He was almost paralysed."

Ms Darling said that on one occasion, soon after Nicholas Waterlow sold the family's beach house, Anthony came over to see his father and "completely without warning, flew into a rage".


"He had a hair-trigger rage, and he just went mad, he went berserk," she said.

"But he was able to be quite well-behaved in a short period of time."

"When the police were called and saw the holes in the wall he would be charming - saying 'everything OK, yes, I've got some anger management issues' and they would believe him."

On another occasion, Ms Darling said she was so worried about her partner's safety that she removed all the knives from the kitchen drawers and hid them in the garden.

A key issue at this week's inquest has been the decision by various doctors and other health professionals not to compulsorily hospitalise the 45-year-old under the Mental Health Act, despite the fact that he had exhibited "bizarre and often threatening" behaviour for some years.

Anthony Waterlow's brother, Luke Waterlow, told the inquest on Friday that it had always been in the "back of the family's mind that something like this could happen".

Nick was very frightened of Anthony. He was almost paralysed.

The family is calling for a changes to the laws relating to the compulsory hospitalisation of those suffering from mental illness which produces dangerous behaviour, to provide better protection to family members at risk.

The inquest continues.