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Man admits to being a double killer with attacks decades apart

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A man serving a life sentence for fatally strangling his Perth neighbour after she visited his home for a cup of tea has pleaded guilty to killing a Victorian woman 30 years earlier in similar circumstances.

Darren John Chalmers, 56, faced the Supreme Court of Victoria on Wednesday, where he pleaded guilty to murdering Annette Steward in her Geelong West home in March 1992.

Darren John Chalmers.

Steward, who had worked at the Winchester ammunition factory in the Geelong suburb of Point Henry, was found dead inside her Hope Street home two weeks before her 30th birthday.

An autopsy at the time revealed Steward, a mother of two, had been strangled to death.

Court documents show Chalmers killed Steward on March 16, 1992, two days before her body was found.

Annette Steward was murdered in her Geelong home when she was 29 in 1992.

In Western Australia in 2021, Supreme Court judge Stephen Hall sentenced Chalmers to life in jail for murdering 60-year-old retired music teacher Dianne Barrett.

The court heard Barrett had visited Chalmers’ home in the Perth suburb of Medina on May 12, 2019, to have a cup of tea before Chalmers used an iron bar and his knees to choke her to death.

He then drove more than 50 kilometres in his ute to dump her body in remote bushland.

While Chalmers initially denied any involvement in Barrett’s death, he led detectives to her remains eight months later.

While sentencing Chalmers to a minimum of 20 years’ jail, the judge said Barrett’s violent killing was among the most serious of its kind.

Dianne Barrett was killed in 2019.

He noted Barrett was last seen alive at Bunnings buying flowers for her elderly mother before being reported missing.

In March, 56-year-old Chalmers was charged with Steward’s cold case murder and extradited from Western Australia to Victoria.

In Chalmers brief court appearance, he confirmed his age and his last known occupation as a self-employed gardener.

When asked to enter a plea to the murder of Steward, Chalmers replied: “Guilty.”

Darren John Chalmers.

The court heard a number of Steward’s family members were still alive, with some living interstate.

Chalmers will return to court in November.

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