Sexual gratification behind rapist’s ‘heinous’ historic killing
Cold-case killer and convicted rapist Francis John Wark has been jailed for 18 years over the death of teenager Hayley Dodd — the harshest sentence for manslaughter in Western Australia.
A jury acquitted Wark, 65, of murder but found him guilty of unlawfully killing the 17-year-old girl after a six-week retrial in the WA Supreme Court last month.
Following Wark’s first trial without a jury, judge Lindy Jenkins found him guilty of murdering Hayley, who vanished in July 1999 while walking along a regional road near Badgingarra, northeast of Perth. She had been planning to visit a boy she had a crush on at a farm near Moora.
On Tuesday, judge Stephen Hall said Hayley resisted Wark and a “violent struggle ensued”.
He said Hayley’s exact cause of death was not known, and might never be known, but it occurred in the context of a sexual attack or to stop her escaping his attack.
“Her vulnerability was obvious,” Justice Hall said. “Your motivation was to achieve your own sexual gratification, without regard to her wishes or wellbeing.
“Your clear intention was (then) to conceal the killing.”
He said it was the strongest sentence handed down for manslaughter in WA, describing the circumstances as among the “worst cases of manslaughter” in history. The previous highest sentence was 12 years.
Justice Hall said Hayley’s death had a devastating impact on her family, which was magnified by having no body and no grave to grieve over. “She was a young woman, no more than a girl, in fact,” he said.
“She had her whole life ahead of her. You robbed her of her life and prospects for her future.”
Hayley’s mother, Margaret Dodd, read her victim impact statement in court, saying her daughter’s only crime was naivety.
“The best we can hope for is now the open wound can start closing, even though the scars will always remain,” she said.
Ms Dodd said only Wark could tell them where he disposed of Hayley’s body: “I pray he does not continue to hold that secret.”
Hayley’s sister Toni also read her victim impact statement, saying she suffered nightmares and sleeplessness. “I hate that my parents are broken and I can’t fix it … it tears me apart,” she said. “Francis Wark didn’t just take my sister away. He took my parents as well.”
She added that the family could never have closure without Hayley’s remains and giving her a proper send-off.
Prosecutor Amanda Forrester described Wark’s actions as heinous and said he was prolonging the family’s agony. “She’s been denied of a full and happy life.”
Wark may be eligible for parole after serving 16 years behind bars, but WA has “no body, no parole” laws. Premier Mark McGowan has previously urged Wark to reveal where he put Hayley’s body.
Outside court, Ms Dodd said Wark did not have “a single reaction” as she read her victim impact statement in court, adding he had “a heart of stone”.