Man charged over 1989 murder of Charles Skarratt, NSW

A man has been charged following a breakthrough in the cold case investigation into the 1989 murder of Charles Skarratt, NSW Police say.

The body of 72-year-old Charles Skarratt, a well-known bookmaker within the greyhound racing industry, was located in the garage of his Woolwich home on the morning of Friday 22 December 1989.

The initial investigation established Mr Skarratt worked at the last race meet of the year at Dapto on Thursday 21 December 1989, and on his drive home, dropped off his colleagues in Sydney’s south.

He arrived home about 1am, and was ambushed as he got out of his car.

Mr Skarrat was bound, assaulted, stabbed, and robbed of about $25,000 cash and his wallet.

Detectives conducted a thorough investigation at the time, but despite pursuing numerous lines of inquiry, no one was charged with his murder.

The matter was referred to the Homicide Squad for future investigation following the 1993 Coronial Inquiry.

In October 2016, detectives from the Homicide Squad’s Unsolved Homicide Team established Strike Force Hildebrand to re-investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder.

As part of their inquiries, numerous exhibits were re-examined and re-tested by specialist forensic officers, which returned a hit on a DNA profile.

Following further inquiries, Strike Force Hildebrand investigators, with the assistance of police from Lake Illawarra Local Area Command, arrested a 58-year-old man at a home at Berkley about 7am today (Thursday 2 November 2017).

He was taken to Oak Flats Police Station and charged with murder.

The man has been refused bail to appear at Wollongong Local Court later today.

Unsolved Homicide Team Coordinator, Detective Chief Inspector Chris Olen, said praised Strike Force Hildebrand detectives for their work to-date.

“Today’s arrest is the culmination of countless hours of diligent and persistent investigation, and it’s not over yet – Strike Force Hildebrand is very much ongoing,” Det Ch Insp Olen said.

“We expect to make further arrests in relation to various aspects surrounding the circumstances of Charles Skarratt’s death, and we won’t give up until all those people are before the courts.

“The death of Mr Skarratt shocked the greyhound racing community – and obviously had a devastating impact on his family – and we are committed to providing answers to them.

“On behalf of all investigators in the Unsolved Homicide Team, I want to thank the community for their ongoing support to all our investigations, and appeal to anyone who has information relevant to this case to get in touch with us,” Det Ch Insp Chris Olen said.

Police are urging anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Hildebrand investigators is urged to call Crime Stoppers.

/Public Release.