Mandurah father tortured by meth addiction

Andrew Bennell wants a better life after struggling with methamphetamine addiction for the past 13 years. Photo: Carla Hildebrandt.
Andrew Bennell wants a better life after struggling with methamphetamine addiction for the past 13 years. Photo: Carla Hildebrandt.

A Mandurah man who has been in and out of jail more times than he can remember says his addiction to methamphetamine from the age of 14 is the root cause of his problems.

Andrew Bennell, 27, who has the words 'insane' and 'Mandurah's finest' tattooed on his jaw, said he had been arrested more than 100 times in his life.

"I've been involved in 20-odd police chases, stolen 30 motor vehicles, two armed robberies - all in Mandurah," he said.

Mr Bennell was released from prison the day before the Mail spoke with him on October 31.

This generation are on the meth real bad here - it's an epidemic.

Andrew Bennell

He had spent the past 12 months in jail after leading police on a drug-fuelled, high-speed chase through Halls Head.

Mr Bennell, one of six brothers and sisters, said he was introduced to methamphetamine by a family member at 14-years-old, when he was still attending high school at Coodanup College.

The father-of-one said the drug initiated his descent into violence and crime.

Mr Bennell said jail became a "second home".

"Sometimes I've only lasted 24 hours, then I'm back in (jail)," he said.

"Every time I've left prison, I go back to meth, to hanging out with negative peers.

"This generation are on the meth real bad here - it's an epidemic.

"I hope the next ones will learn from our mistakes."

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Mr Bennell said he had often thought how his life could have gone in another direction, like his professional footballer cousin Harley Bennell.

"We grew up on the same street, our mothers are sisters," he said.

"He's broke down in tears to me a couple of times because I could have pursued a different path."

Mr Bennell said jail was "easy" with routine, but on the outside, things could go from good to bad, in a day.

You might bump into one of the old friends you used to hang out with, then the cycle starts again, in one second.

Andrew Bennell

"If there's nowhere to go or no one to help, you can lose hope," he said.

"You might bump into one of the old friends you used to hang out with, then the cycle starts again, in one second."

Mr Bennell said the waiting period for appointments regarding employment or health issues was too long.

"If they give you an appointment, it's for six or seven weeks away - anything can happen in that time."

"Anything could happen today.

"The process needs to be a whole lot faster."

Despite his troubled past, Mr Bennell said he finally wanted to get clean and have a good life.

"I am still labelled that bad guy - I feel bad when people look at me," he said.

"I just want to be a better man."

Mr Bennell said his leg was amputated as a teenager after he was involved in a serious car crash, which had hindered him from finding long-term employment.

He said he wanted to tell the story of his struggles with methamphetamine to children at Mandurah schools, in the hope they will choose a different path than he has.

For information on Narcotics Anonymous Mandurah meeting information, visit http://wana.org.au/ or call 1300 652 820.