Five years ago, we met Margaret Dodd and her husband Ray, forever heartbroken at the loss of their daughter Hayley, who vanished in July, 1999.
“She was a massive Leonardo DCaprio fan; she saw Titanic 12 times!” Margaret managed a smile.
“Our family has a rule; we have to smile three times a day. It’s how we get through,” Ray explained.
But he’s a broken man.
Anyone who follows the news now knows what happened after Hayley went missing.
Hitchhiking near Moora to visit a friend on a farm, she was picked up by a monster: Francis John Wark, who lived nearby. The petite 17-year-old didn’t stand a chance against her attacker, then in his 40s, who terrorised, assaulted, then snuffed out her young life.
Wark later sold his farm and moved to Queensland. He clearly thought he’d got away with his crime. There, he raped and attacked another defenceless woman and was jailed. After many years, and a cold case investigation, he was finally arrested and convicted of murdering Hayley. Maintaining he was innocent, the monster appealed his conviction and to the great despair of the Dodds, the court determined there should be a re-trial.
Thankfully, this year he was again found guilty of killing Hayley. Though the jury weren’t satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he murdered her, they were convinced he’d killed her.
I went to court to support Margaret on this important day for her family. From where I was sitting with other journalists, I had a good view of Wark, 65. In formal suit, as if attending church, he sat expressionless and docile, hands on his knees.
His face didn’t change when Margaret sat in the dock and read out her victim impact statement. Her voice never wavered as she told of the impact on her and her family. As she begged her daughter’s killer to reveal where Hayley’s body is, so they can have some closure. Margaret was able to look at Francis Wark; but he stared fixedly downward, never able to look her in the eye.
The judge sentenced to Wark to 18 years jail. He’ll probably die behind bars. Parole won’t be an option unless he reveals where Hayley’s body lies. It’s thanks to Margaret that WA now has a “no body, no parole,” law, in which killers who don’t divulge where their victims lie remain ineligible for parole.
I later asked Margaret if she’d mind if we published her statement. She agreed.
It’s a moving and powerful reminder of what a flow-on effect one person’s actions can have on so many others.
Also in this issue, we interview Janet De Neefe, founder of the Bali Writers And Readers Festival, about her life in Bali without the tourists. A creative and resilient dynamo, she’s forever finding new innovative ways to cope with the challenges. We also bring you a delicious recipe for Spinach and Tofu curry from Janet, a brilliant cook and restaurateur.
And art lovers will want to enter our new contest, in which you can win Perth artist Louise Farney’s coffee table book, ‘Cos Life’s A Beach. Read our interview with Louise in this issue.
Ros reviews movie Land, starring the talented Robin Wright, who also produced it, looking less glamorous and self-assured than you’d remember her in House Of Cards, but more authentic, playing a traumatised woman who has to leave everyone behind to process her grief. Which leads us back to Margaret Dodd. Despite everything she’s had to endure, she’s still at the heart of her family, and now a loving great- grandmother. A brave, strong and resilient woman. Margaret, we wish you well and hope Hayley’s body will soon be found so you and your family can bury your daughter.
Jacqui and Peter