A WA Supreme Court judge has found Francis John Wark guilty of murdering teenager Hayley Dodd in 1999.
It has taken almost 20 years to convict a known rapist of murdering West Australian teenager Hayley Dodd, based largely on a recovered earring, but for her family there can be no closure without a body.
“Tell us where Hayley is so we can put her to rest,” sister Toni said in a message to the killer, Francis John Wark, outside the Supreme Court on Monday.
“Give our family some peace. We didn’t just lose a sister, we lost parents as well.”
She said she never thought this day would come, adding the family had to sit through the “horrible” seven-week, judge-alone trial to learn every detail and see if there were clues about the location of Hayley’s body.
Wark, 61, has already flagged considering an appeal after a visibly shaken Justice Lindy Jenkins ruled on Monday that he was guilty of murder but not wilful murder.
She said she was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt he intended to kill Hayley.
The 17-year-old was last seen walking along a road near rural Badgingarra, where Wark had lived for 15 years, on July 29, 1999.
Wark lured Hayley into a ute between 11.40am and 12.10pm, murdered her and disposed of her body before 1.36pm when he paid an account at Badgingarra roadhouse while riding his motorcycle to Perth.
He showed little emotion when the judgment was handed down, but Hayley’s family wiped away tears as they sat in the packed public gallery, with many wearing yellow flowers as a tribute to Hayley.
Defence counsel Darryl Ryan had argued it was possible an ankh-shaped earring matching the style Hayley was wearing when she went missing could have been planted by police.
The key piece of evidence was only found in 2013 when a car bench seat cover that police seized one week after Hayley vanished was examined at the state forensic laboratory.
Justice Jenkins rejected Mr Ryan’s submission and did not accept injury would necessarily occur when the earring was removed.
She took into account other suspects, the narrow window of opportunity to commit the crime and the fact that despite extensive searches nothing has been found to connect Wark to Hayley except the earring.
“The propensity evidence persuades me that in 1999, the accused was the type of person who would be likely to pick up a lone female hitchhiker and violently and seriously assault her,” Justice Jenkins said.
“This would be for the purpose of subduing her or overpowering her so that she was incapable of resisting him and so that he could rape her.”
Justice Jenkins also found Wark was likely to take an earring as a trophy and deliberately lied to police when he said he had not picked up any hitchhiker.
“I am satisfied that the lie sprang from a realisation of guilt and fear of the truth,” she said.
Wark will face a sentencing hearing on January 30