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SEXUAL ABUSE

(WESTERN AUSTRALIA) Supreme Court Report: More than 20 years after teenager Hayley Dodd vanished from a remote WA road, a convicted rapist accused of abducting and murdering her is facing a new trial #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Feb.16: Francis John Wark is alleged to have snatched the 17-year-old as she walked in broad daylight along a road near the property where he lived in Badgingarra, abut 200 kilometres north of Perth, on July 29, 1999:

Hayley Dodd’s accused killer Frances Wark faces second trial for alleged 1999 murder: ‘On Monday, a second trial started for Wark in the Supreme Court, with Justice Stephen Hall telling the jury members while it was “no secret” there had been previous hearing, the outcome and fact it had happened was not relevant’

ABC WA News: updated 6h ago

A smiling Hayley Dodd sits on a bed wearing a light blue school polo shirt.
Hayley Dodd was a week into a working trip around Australia when she disappeared.(AAP: Australian Missing Persons Register)

Hayley has not been seen or heard from since.

He also told them it was important not to speculate about the previous trial and that they should put it out of their minds.

“This is a completely new trial. The accused has pleaded not guilty and is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” he said.

Earring found in car seat cover

In an opening address to the jury, the WA Director of Public Prosecutions, Amanda Forrester SC, said it was the state’s case Wark abducted the teenager with a “sexual intention” before disposing of her body.

She said the evidence against the accused included the discovery 14 years later of an earring, matching those believed to have been worn by the 17-year-old, in a car seat cover seized from the vehicle Wark was driving on the day she vanished.

A sketch of the earing with words "not certain of join" and "blue turquoise stone", inset with a very similar-looking earing.
The jury was shown a sketch of Hayley Dodd’s earring done by her friend, and the one found in a car used by Francis Wark.(Supplied: WA Supreme Court)

Ms Forrester said a hair was also discovered amongst vacuumings taken from the floor of the vehicle, and multiple tests had shown it was “highly likely” the DNA found on it could have come from Ms Dodd.

She outlined Wark’s 2007 conviction for abducting a woman from a remote road in Queensland and repeatedly sexually assaulting her.

She said the state argued that showed he had a “tendency to pick up women and violently sexually assault them”.

Wark’s car allegedly seen on road

Wark denies having anything to do with Hayley’s disappearance andmaintains he was shopping in the nearby town of Moora when Ms Dodd was last seen alive, around 11.30am walking along North West Road.

But Ms Forrester argued witnesses who claimed to have seen a vehicle similar to his on the road that day showed his alibi was false.

Hayley Dodd poses for a photo with her head resting on her right hand.
Hayley Dodd was last seen walking along a road in WA’s Wheatbelt.(AAP: Australian Missing Persons Register)

“The evidence shows that was on North West Road, near where Hayley Dodd was seen, and he did have the opportunity to abduct her that day,” she said.

The court heard Ms Dodd was a week into a working trip around Australia and Ms Forrester said she was “full of plans for the future and excited what lay ahead”.

She said when Hayley disappeared, she was on her way to make a surprise visit to a family she had stayed with before, but she had “the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

No time for murder, defence says

In his opening address, defence lawyer Darryl Ryan said it was his client’s case he was innocent of the allegations.

“Frances Wark did not murder Hayley Dodd, he never saw her, he had nothing to do with her disappearance, he had nothing to do with Hayley Dodd at all,” he said.

Francis Wark's lawyer Darryl Ryan walking outside court wearing sunglasses and a blue tie, with women to his left and right.
Defence lawyer Darryl Ryan says Wark would have had no time to commit the crime as alleged.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)

Mr Ryan said Wark denied being on North West Road at the same time the teenager was seen by witnesses, and maintained he was either still in Moora, 50 kilometres away, or had just embarked on his journey back to his property.

“The defence case is he could not have picked her up in that small window of time,” he said.

Mr Ryan highlighted that no body had been found and said there was no evidence of any murder weapon or of any blood being found, despite extensive searches of Wark’s property that included the stripping of walls and the ripping up of floors.

He also told the jury his client would have had no time to commit the crime as alleged by the state, because it would have involved luring Ms Dodd into his car, violently assaulting her and then disposing of her body in such a way for it to have not been found in more than 20 years.

He acknowledged his client’s conviction for abducting and raping a woman in Queensland, but said that happened seven years later and the circumstances were “vastly different” from what was alleged with Ms Dodd.

Mr Ryan said the Queensland crime occurred in the early hours of the morning, the victim was a mature woman and Wark had pleaded guilty at an early opportunity.

He said while nobody condoned what Wark had done, the jury could not make an assumption that because he was guilty of those offences he was guilty of what was being alleged at this trial.

Earring, DNA evidence disputed

Mr Ryan went on to address the earring found in the car seat cover in 2013, saying it was the defence case that it was not Hayley Dodd’s.

He said the earring was not a unique or valuable piece of jewellery, but rather it was a popular item sold at that time.

An earring embedded in a car seat cover.
The earing was found embedded in a car seat cover from the vehicle Francis Wark was driving.(Supplied: WA Supreme Court)

“It did not belong to Hayley Dodd. It is possible she had a similar earring but the earring in the car seat cover was not hers,” he said.

He said the two forensic police officers who seized the car seat cover in 1999 had not found the earring, and there was also evidence the bag in which it was subsequently stored had been opened by “someone unknown, arguing that raised questions about the integrity of the exhibit.

Mr Ryan also said it was the defence case that the hair found in the vacuumings was not Ms Dodd’s, because it contained male DNA and had therefore come from a man.

The judge, lawyers, jury members and Wark will conduct what is called a “view” on Tuesday by travelling to the relevant sites, including the area where Ms Dodd was last seen alive.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Fe.16: 2021:

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