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Christopher Skase, who died on Sunday.

20-08-2013
Having spent the best part of ten years covering the Chase for Skase with Jason Moore, we both got to know members of the Skase family well, developing a trusting, professional and objective relationship. After Christopher Skase fought off an attempt by the Australian government to extradite him for questioning in connection with over 30 charges of fraud, in the Spanish High Court, which in 1994 historically came to Palma for the trial because even then Skase was unfit for travel, he spoke exclusively to the Bulletin, as he did on a number of occasions over the past six years. Yesterday morning I witnessed and shared the family's grief at their Andratx home, four walls, a roof and a family inside which has been torn apart by Skase's sudden death late on Sunday night. The death was sudden because while his doctors, especially Felipe Nicolau who the family can not even begin to thank enough for all the effort he channelled in to trying to cure, in the early days, Skase's emphysema and stomach cancer and more recently make his life as comfortable as possible, they were well aware of the reality of Skase's condition. As would be expected, the family, like any other, held out hope that Skase would at least be able to enjoy a further three months of his life in peace and quiet in the Andratx hills on the island which became his home. It was not to be. Skase, the “man of vision and nerve” who six years ago sat down, looked us in the eyes and said “hold on to your seats, the second half is about to begin,” never envisaged dying at the age of 52, being the final chapter of the second half of his life. He fought right up until the very end and over the past eight months, as the stomach cancer spread throughout his tired and thinning body, he would still try and create an air of hope, trying to hide the true reality of his condition from his family. Apart from the cancer and emphysema, the guilt of knowing and having to watch his family suffer so much on his behalf could have dealt him the final blow. Skase's family in Majorca, his widow Pixie, who was alone with him when he passed away peacefully on Sunday night, his daughter Amanda, son-in-law Tony Larkin and their daughter Charlotte, were all in shock yesterday morning and the air was thick, at times explosive, with mixed emotions. Unable to fully accept the reality of what has happened and uncertain about what will happen, the sense of loss at their Andratx home was enormous. Not only was Christopher Skase Pixie's husband, he was also her best friend. Despite his critical condition, Skase, when not in hospital undergoing very heavy chemotherapy treatment, spent much of the past month tying up loose ends trying to pave a future path for Pixie and the family. Yesterday that path was a road to nowhere as the devastated family tried in vain to take stock of the situation. On a number of occasions, Pixie, who had been at Christopher's side throughout, acting as his nurse, fled upstairs to see Christopher; his body was removed from the house at 11pm on Sunday night. There were embraces, tears, questions, but few answers, and moments when family members disappeared for a quiet moment to let the emotions flow. But those quiet moments yesterday were more like a stop gap, with the grief, anger, bitterness and confusion flooding out in stops and starts. An old friend of Skase, now a leading Australian radio broadcaster said to me yesterday “we forget he has never been convicted. He had a dream which a lot of people shared and many sponged off.” That dream, which Skase held until the very end, has been shattered and has been turned in to a nightmare which his family are going to have to try and live with despite the fact we all thought this was the end of the Chase for Skase.

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