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Show caption Former West Australian treasurer Troy Buswell pleaded guilty to three charges involving his ex-partner. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

Western Australia

Australian Associated Press

Tue 26 Apr 2022 06.16 EDT

Former West Australian treasurer Troy Buswell has been handed a suspended prison sentence for repeatedly attacking his ex-wife.

Buswell, 56, pleaded guilty in Perth magistrates court to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated assault causing bodily harm.

The charges related to three separate incidents between 2015 and 2016 involving his then-partner, Melissa Hankinson, including one in which he pushed her to the ground and repeatedly kicked her.

Defence lawyer Tom Percy QC on Tuesday told the court his client was now taking medication for his diagnosed bipolar disorder and “hadn’t had a drink for a long time”. Percy said a significant fine would be an appropriate penalty.

But magistrate Evan Shackleton disagreed and handed Buswell an eight-and-a-half month prison sentence in relation to the most serious attack which he suspended for 12 months.

He also fined Buswell a total of $2,500 – to be paid to Hankinson – over the other assaults.

The court heard that Buswell had become angry after catching Hankinson smoking at his Subiaco apartment after attending an AFL game in April 2015.

He pushed her down the steps leading out of his apartment, using a broom to shove her further down.

In another incident on Valentine’s Day in 2016, Buswell hit Hankinson on her arm with a slotted spoon, leaving a visible bruise, the court heard.

The third assault, described by prosecutor Sean Dworcan as “cowardly and disgraceful”, happened later that month in the state’s south-west after they attended a function.

Dworcan said Buswell kicked Hankinson in the legs during a taxi ride before assaulting her in a bedroom at his mother’s home, pushing her to the ground and kicking her repeatedly in the ribs, buttocks and legs.

Buswell argued through his lawyer he had been unable to see what he was doing because the lights were off – a claim disputed by prosecutors – but admitted having caused the injuries.

His lawyer said the relationship had been strained and argumentative and “there was perhaps some degree of physicality” from both parties.

“The marriage was just a mistake from start to finish,” Percy said. “Just two parties who never really got on.”

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The prosecutor said Hankinson blamed herself for the attacks and now suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and hypervigilance.

“She was ashamed of being a police officer … dealing with victims of crime including women that had been assaulted and yet that was something that was going on at home for her and she did nothing about it, or at least nothing for quite some time,” Dworcan said.

Buswell admitted the charges midway through his trial earlier this year. Three other charges were discontinued.

After entering parliament in 2005, Buswell became leader of the WA Liberals three years later but his political life was marred by scandals.

He quit politics in 2014 after revelations he had a string of car crashes while returning home from a wedding.

A one-time likely successor to then-premier Colin Barnett, Buswell’s other indiscretions included sniffing the chair of a Liberal staffer in 2008 while writhing in mock pleasure, and an affair with then-Greens MP Adele Carles in 2010.

He declined to comment outside court on Tuesday.

  • In Australia, the national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732. In the UK, call the national domestic abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247, or visit Women’s Aid. In the US, the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines may be found via www.befrienders.org

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Source: Google News