This month Perth woman Margaret Dodd bravely sat in the Supreme Court, faced the man who killed her daughter Hayley, and outlined how his barbaric crimes have impacted her and her family for the past 22 years. Here’s what she said:
My daughter Hayley was a beautiful 17-year-old girl whose only crime was naivety, wanting to travel and experience Australia, and paid dearly for her ambition with her life.
It would be impossible to describe to you the full impact of the past 22 years of sheer hell despair, helplessness, devastation, dysfunction and the destructive effect on our family, because of our child’s murder and never being able to find her remains.
Watching my husband, the breadwinner, the person who has guided the family, the person who makes those difficult decisions, a strong man becoming nothing more than a vegetable. Sitting day in, day out, month in, month out crying, no longer able to leave the house, no longer able to talk, engulfed in so much pain and sadness that our two young teenage children wanted to live with their older sister because they could not stand the sorrowful and anxious atmosphere.
Living in the house that we had brought our children up in since emerging from the UK was no longer a happy place and became more like a prison than a home; we found it hard just to get through the day and could not function; we were desperate to try and find solitude that losing money was not a factor – we needed to move for our mental well-being.
Watching my younger children struggling at school, being asked questions constantly about their sister to the point that they rarely attended school and missed almost a year of schooling, putting them behind. Witnessing all Hayley’s siblings constantly fighting with the sadness that they constantly carry in their hearts and trying to make sense of it all. I am proud of the way my children have learned to manage the pain they feel and create their own happy memories. I am saddened that my eldest child totally lost his way and hope one day his life will be better. I feel so much guilt as I could not protect them from the cruel world that they had to contend with; I should have done better.
The feeling of guilt, blame, and wanting to lash out at the world becomes part of your normal life, listening to people laughing, enjoying themselves hurts and cuts your mental stability into shreds.
Then you have some small comfort of feeling that you are able to do something positive for Hayley, something that she wanted to do but was denied the opportunity, like having an 18th birthday party with lots of people attending. This we did for her by placing a small wishing well at the place she was supposed to have been last seen, her 18th birthday shown throughout WA in the media, the biggest party ever for her, and believing that she will know her birthday was not forgotten. A brass plaque with the words, ‘Hayley Dodd born 30/11/1981. Disappeared from this place July 29 at 11.30am. Three wishes – Wish you were home safe and well – wish this never happens to anyone else again – wish the evil monsters in our midst are caught. We love and miss you so much our hearts are torn apart.” Hayley also wanted to be in Dolly magazine and asked me to take pictures of her for a makeover competition; she never sent these to them. In April 2000 we sent that picture to Dolly, to us it was our own way of fulfilling her dreams. The third one, we have never been able to achieve.
I had a few jobs over the years but all would end up in me leaving after having an emotional breakdown at work. I felt too unstable to return because of developments or lack of developments in Hayley’s case.
When I finally get to sleep I pray I don’t wake up in the morning, but I do wake up and have another day to get through, and I have to continue on for all my children’s sake.
It is a miracle how my husband and I have managed to stay married through all these years, the self-medication of alcohol trying to numb the pain when everything becomes too much to bear; trying to get the horrific thoughts out of your mind, just trying to survive.
Hayley has missed out celebrating the births of so many nieces and nephews, great niece and great nephew and the opportunity of having children herself; all this has been denied her by the heinous act of one person.
We had contacted the Coroner in June 2004 requesting a coroner’s inquest on the instruction of an investigating police officer; the inquest never happened.
This has been our life since we received that phone call to say Hayley had not turned up at the farm. Always waiting for answers. The path we will have to live with until the day we die, no parole or early release for us. The best we can hope for is that now the open wound can start closing even though the scar will always remain.
We so desperately need to find Hayley and afford her the decent Christian farewell she deserves and have some peace. Only one person can tell us where her remains are and that is Mr Wark. I pray he does not continue to hold that secret.