WA senate hopeful Andrew Skerritt convicted of stalking

Daniel EmersonThe West Australian

The lead WA Senate candidate for the Shooters Fishers and Farmers, one of several minor parties still vying for a seat, was convicted in 1999 of stalking.

Barrister Andrew Skerritt was fined $1000 and handed a violence restraining order after repeatedly telephoning a female lawyer from payphones across Perth’s western suburbs in 1997 and 1998, and slashing the tyres of her boyfriend’s car.

SFF WA leader Rick Mazza yesterday said Mr Skerritt disclosed the matter to the party, which considered him a worthy Senate candidate because the Legal Practice Board found he was a fit and proper person to practise law in the mid-2000s.

Mr Skerritt said yesterday he successfully applied for a spent conviction 10 years after being found guilty and claimed it entitled him to dispute the facts of the case.

He denied stalking and slashing tyres. But a 1999 Supreme Court judgment dismissing an appeal against his conviction found the evidence “irresistible”.

Former Justice John McKechnie, now the Corruption and Crime Commissioner, described the then law student as “utterly obsessed” with a 28-year-old lawyer he met in her final year of law school.

Mr Skerritt kept a diary called “The Fall and Rise of Andrew P Skerritt” in which he detailed his plan for “a barrage of letters until Feb 20” and to speak to the woman’s boyfriend Giles Bennett.

Mr Skerritt later moved into a flat across the road from Mr Bennett and twice slashed his tyres — once outside his apartment and once outside the woman’s parents’ home.

In claims that Justice McKechnie deemed “fantasy”, Mr Skerritt told the woman’s friend he “was or had been employed by government security agencies, had been involved in advising the military on strategic manoeuvres, had been to Cambodia and been in contact with the Khmer Rouge, had seen ‘the darker side of man’ and that he and his associates knew how to make people disappear”.

When police raided Mr Skerritt’s home they found a book on stalking under his bed. It is understood the woman moved overseas shortly after the court case.

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Only criminals awaiting sentencing or currently serving a sentence for a crime that carries more than 12 months jail are forbidden from taking up a seat in Federal Parliament.

Mr Bennett said Mr Skerritt’s behaviour had been very intimidating.

“A lot of people don’t understand what being stalked does to you,” he said.

“You can’t ever relax. It turns you into a basket case.”

Mr Skerritt said he spent the next 15 years working hard representing the disadvantaged and had been happily married for 18 years.

“If you want to judge someone for the rest of their life for something they did in their mid-20s I think that raises serious questions about your judgment and cheap journalism,” he said.

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