‘Obsessed is a word that lazy people use to describe the dedicated.’
They were words Henry David Shepherdson used to try and convince people he was a motivated individual.
On Wednesday, the 38-year old took his own daughter and dedication for misery over a 36-metre drop in the Barossa Valley of South Australia.
To his mates, Shepherdson was known fondly as ‘Shep’, ‘Sheppo’ and ‘Shepski’ – knockabout Aussie names for what appeared on the outside to be a knockabout Aussie bloke.
Henry Shepherdson jumped off a 36-metre high dam with his nine-month-old daughter Kobi (pictured) strapped to his chest. The father had been in court hours before murder-suicide
The man (not pictured) was already dead when emergency services found him at the bottom of the wall after 4.30pm. Paramedics tried to revive the baby but she also died at the scene
Paramedics were called to the Whispering Wall dam in the Barossa Valley about 4.30pm to respond to a psychiatric incident
While those closest to Shepherdson might not have imagined what he was truly capable of, there were plenty of pointers in his troubling history of violence and love of firearms in matters that had been before the courts in Western Australia and South Australia.
Strapped to her father’s chest, little Kobi would have been comforted with the warmth of her protector as he made the climb up to the top of the Whispering Wall dam in what would be their last day trip together.
As Shepherdson climbed over the fence with his nine-month old daughter attached, other children enjoying a day out with their parents looked on in horror.
The dam is a popular attraction for young families, with kids being able to whisper on one side and be clearly heard at the other, more than 100 metres away.
As Australia comes to terms with the loss of yet another innocent life at the hands of their own father, an outpouring of emotion, anger and grief has been evident across social media.
Just hours before Shepherdson committed the ultimate act of betrayal, a South Australian court had issued an order banning him from going within 200m of his family.
Extraordinarily, the order did not forbid him from having access to the estranged couple’s baby daughter.
Shepherdson had threatened to kill Kobi late last year – and was refused police bail due to his ‘penchant for firearms’, The Advertiser reported.
Kobi’s dad had been accused of imprisoning her mother in SA and had ‘an extensive history of violence’ in WA, including multiple breaches of bail conditions.
In the days before Shepherdson’s atrocity, he would describe himself as ‘Pimpin’ – a slang term usually used by insecure, single men on the prowl for women.
His social media pages are littered with images of Canadian R&B singer the Weeknd, who wrote albums such as ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ and ‘My Dear Melancholy’.
Shepherdson was legally entitled to see Kobi, despite earlier suggestions she had been kidnapped
Emergency services worked on the little girl for about 15 minutes before she, too, was declared dead at the scene
As more crews arrived the mission changed to a rescue mission and then body retrieval
On Friday, Shepherdson’s Facebook page had become a lightning rod for rage.
Hundreds of people who had never even met him, or the baby whose life he cruelly ended, vented on images and video he had posted of Kobi over her short life.
Many had come to see the face of the monster who would do such a thing.
Others just sought answers to questions of domestic violence issues that have been asked for decades.
‘How could the courts allow this monster to have this little sweetheart on his own with his history,’ one stranger posted.
‘They gave this monster the access he needed to do this terrible terrible crime to such an innocent little angel.’
South Australian police have confirmed Shepherdson was legally entitled to see Kobi.
That was despite a criminal history that had kept Shepherdson behind bars from December until March this year.
Shepherdson had appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates’ Court that day to fight the exclusion order from his family, or posting content of them online.
Back in November, Shepherdson uploaded a sweet video of Kobi as she babbled and played in her rocker. It was his final post before he died
Kobi’s face will be ‘the face of domestic violence moving forward’, Mr Parrot said, urging the public to ‘remember her beautiful face’ through photos that her heartbroken mother has supplied to the police
Despite the outward displays of affection, Shepherdson had a sickening criminal history
Like all too many dads who have become estranged from their partners, Shepherdson treated court orders as nothing more than a piece of paper.
Breaching an intervention order in South Australia is punishable by a term of imprisonment up to two years.
Similar penalties apply across Australia.
The reality is that very few people found guilty of repeatedly breaching intervention orders go to jail, and if they do, it’s more likely for a couple of days than a couple of years.
Anyone who has worn a badge will tell you some men just can’t take no for an answer – and they can’t move on from an irretrievably damaged relationship.
The father-of-one had been in trouble with the law well before Kobi was even born.
In March 2019, Shepherdson was charged with making threats to kill his spouse, assault and false imprisonment.
He was slapped with an intervention order, but breached it just weeks later – something he would do repeatedly over the next year-and-a-half.
Kobi (pictured) was killed after her father plunged from the Whispering Wall in South Australia
Henry Shepherdson jumped off a 36-metre high dam with his nine-month-old daughter Kobi (pictured with his aunt) strapped to his chest.
Timeline of emergency response
4:30pm – Ambulance from Hamley Bridge station is sent out to respond to a ‘psychiatric’ incident
4:32pm – SA Ambulance Service send out another unit from Hamley Bridge for an ’emergency’ callout
4:32pm – Dispatch send out another unit from Playford ambulance station – which is closer to the dam – for the same ’emergency’
4:32pm – A third ambulance is sent from nearby Oakden station
4:36pm – An urgent call is made for a MEDSTAR (Medical Shock Trauma/Acute Resuscitation) helicopter
4:40pm – Call placed to the SAAS Special Operations Team – a team of highly-trained rescue paramedics.
4.42pm – Emergency crews request permission for the helicopter to land
4.48pm – Mission changes to a body retrieval
As Christmas approached last year, Shepherdson lost his cool and was charged again with domestic violence offences.
By then, he had been subject to court-imposed conditions on his movements and internet use for four months.
On Wednesday, Shepherdson had attempted to have his intervention order varied.
Instead, he was referred to the Abuse Prevention Program, which required Shepherdson to participate in counselling and treatment for rehabilitation.
He wasn’t going to have it.
With full consent of the law, Kobi’s family handed the child over to him, and the pair set off on their final journey.
Late on Wednesday, a chilling dispatch log uncovered by Daily Mail Australia revealed the chaotic moments that unfolded as ambulances, police crews and rescue teams raced to the tourist spot, where they found stunned tourists watching on in horror.
Several witnesses had tried to stop him from jumping and talk him off the ledge.
The callout was listed as ‘psychiatric’ on an emergency services scanner; a term used for an incident involving mental illness or a suicide attempt.
Two minutes later, a call for help was placed to teams from the Playford and Oakden ambulance stations for an ’emergency’ situation that was unfolding.
Things escalated as units arrived at the dam, with the MEDSTAR (Medical Shock Trauma/Acute Resuscitation) helicopter sent at 4.36pm.
A chilling dispatch log (above) shows how the first team of paramedics from Hamley Bridge station were sent to a suspected psychiatric incident
Just minutes after that team was called, emergency services sent out its Special Operations Team – a crew of paramedics who specialise in high-risk search and rescue procedures usually involving water and cliff rescues.
Shephardson was already dead.
Kobi lived on for about 15 minutes before she too succumbed to her injuries.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing mental health issues contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
DV Crisis Line 1800 800 098