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How the Fernando cousins abducted, raped and murdered nurse Sandra Hoare at Walgett in 1994

The rape and murder of nurse Sandra Hoare at Walgett in north-west New South Wales more than two decades ago remains one of the state’s most sickening crimes.

Ms Hoare was working alone in the town’s hospital when she was abducted from the geriatric ward, sexually assaulted at a nearby oval and slaughtered by two cousins. 

The 21-year suffered what a judge described as ‘extended concentrated suffering’ over an hour-long ordeal in which she was subjected to ‘acute degradation and humiliation’. 

When Vester and Brendan Fernando had finished tormenting Ms Hoare her life was ended with repeated blows from a machete which almost decapitated her.

Vester was 24 and Brendan a year younger at the time of the 1994 murder. In 1997 they were both sentenced to life in prison and two years later Vester murdered Brendan in jail. 

Sandra Hoare was abducted from Walgett hospital in NSW’s north west in December 1994. Vester Fernando (pictured) was 24 and living at a rehabilitation centre for Aborigines with drug and alcohol problems when he murdered Ms Hoare with his cousin Brendan

Sandra Hoare was taken to an oval where she was raped then attacked so viciously with a machete she was almost beheaded. Cousins Vester and Brendan Fernando were jailed for life for her murder

Sandra Hoare was taken to an oval where she was raped then attacked so viciously with a machete she was almost beheaded. Cousins Vester and Brendan Fernando were jailed for life for her murder

Brendan Fernando was 23 when he and his cousin Vester murdered Sandra Hoare. He had been drinking all day before the pair abducted her. Brendan told police Vester killed Ms Hoare

Brendan Fernando was 23 when he and his cousin Vester murdered Sandra Hoare. He had been drinking all day before the pair abducted her. Brendan told police Vester killed Ms Hoare

Their crimes were recalled with horror again this week when it was revealed Vester had been charged with the attempted murder of another inmate. 

Vester and Brendan, who both denied killing Ms Hoare, were convicted on circumstantial evidence and admissions made by the younger cousin. 

Before Ms Hoare’s murder they had both been heavy drinkers and cannabis smokers and had spent short stints in jail. They had what was described as a ‘brotherly’ relationship.

Vester had a criminal record for offences of dishonesty dating back to 1986. Two years later he was jailed for common assault and in June 1989 was sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of three years for robbery with wounding.

In September 1992 he was sentenced to four years with a minimum term of two years for assault with attempt to rob in company. He was on parole for that crime when he murdered Ms Hoare.

Walgett is a socially disadvantaged community – more than 40 per cent of the current population of about 2,000 is indigenous – and the murder of a white woman by two black men stirred racial tensions in the town. 

Before the murder Vester had been living for some time at Orana Haven, a hostel at Brewarrina 90 minutes’ drive west of Walgett which provides rehabilitation for Aborigines suffering from alcohol and drug problems.

Three other Orana residents said they had seen Vester in possession of machetes at the hostel. He was seen with at least one machete on the night of Ms Hoare’s murder.

Ms Hoare was engaged to be married when she started her night shift at Walgett hospital on December 8, 1994. 

Her fiancé said she had dressed for work in a white shirt, slacks, sockettes and shoes. When he drove her to the hospital she had her hair pulled back with a tie.  

Sandra Hoare was working alone in the geriatric ward of Walgett hospital when she was abducted by the Fernando cousins. Vester Fernando assaulted an elderly patient before taking Ms Hoare to a nearby oval

Sandra Hoare was working alone in the geriatric ward of Walgett hospital when she was abducted by the Fernando cousins. Vester Fernando assaulted an elderly patient before taking Ms Hoare to a nearby oval

That evening Vester had arrived at his sister Wendy’s Walgett home about 6pm carrying an overnight bag. 

He was driven to a local hotel where he linked up with Brendan, who had already been drinking most of the day. 

Wendy last saw the pair at the pub about 10pm and various locals encountered the cousins around town over the next few hours. 

Robert Walford had an altercation with Vester when he ran into the cousins in the street about midnight. Vester, he said, had grabbed him by the shirt while carrying a machete.

Michael Jackson also said he also saw the cousins in the street and Vester had invited him to join them in stealing a car.

Mr Jackson said Vester told him: ‘Don’t worry about anyone grabbing you Mick, I’ve got a machete here.’

Vester then pulled up his shirt and showed Mr Jackson the blade of what looked like a machete and said ‘If anyone grabs you, I’ll kill them.’

Footage allegedly shows double killer Vester Allan Fernando stabbing another inmate at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre near Kempsey in New South Wales on April 8

Footage allegedly shows double killer Vester Allan Fernando stabbing another inmate at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre near Kempsey in New South Wales on April 8

The vision allegedly shows Fernando walk away from the stabbed prisoner as he writhes on the ground. Fernando then appears to slide a weapon across the floor to approaching officers

The vision allegedly shows Fernando walk away from the stabbed prisoner as he writhes on the ground. Fernando then appears to slide a weapon across the floor to approaching officers

Footage obtained by Daily Mail Australia shows the stabbing unfold under a stairway, as other inmates mill around and the wounded prisoner bleeds out on the floor

Footage obtained by Daily Mail Australia shows the stabbing unfold under a stairway, as other inmates mill around and the wounded prisoner bleeds out on the floor

Mr Jackson, who parted company with the cousins, said Vester told him he was going to his sister’s house to get a screw driver to break into a car.

Lindsay Morgan saw the cousins in the street between 1am and 2am and said Vester was holding a machete in his right hand with Brendan walking beside him.

Mr Morgan’s sister Sharada gave evidence of seeing both Fernando cousins in a Walgett street in the early hours of December 9.

Ms Morgan said she saw Brendan throw a knife into the bush as a police vehicle drove by. Brendan had then retrieved the knife and given it to the Vester who put it down his shorts.

Ms Morgan said she later saw the cousins walking towards the hospital.

Exactly what happened at the hospital is unclear because we only have Brendan’s version. But it seems the cousins attempted to steal a car from the grounds before abducting Ms Hoare from her ward. 

Nurse Adam Jackson had driven his partner’s car to the hospital that night and parked about 10.45pm.  

About 2.45am Mr Jackson went to the ward where Ms Hoare was working to visit her but could not find his colleague.

Vester Fernando had been housed in the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre (pictured) until he allegedly stabbed another inmate on April 8. He is now in Goulburn's Supermax jail

Vester Fernando had been housed in the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre (pictured) until he allegedly stabbed another inmate on April 8. He is now in Goulburn’s Supermax jail

Instead, he found a elderly patient with a head wound and saw blood in the building. Inspecting the car he found a broken window and damage to the lock and ignition.

Mr Jackson noticed several items missing from the glovebox including a Bon Jovi cassette, sunglasses and a photograph of his partner’s children. Some of those items were linked to Vester.

Ms Hoare’s dead body was not found until later that day. She was wearing only the unzippered slacks, sockettes and shoes. Her underwear was never located.

The injuries the nurse had suffered were appalling.

Ms Hoare had sustained a number of cuts to the jaw and two wounds described as ‘very severe’ to the neck. Together those wounds passed through the jugular vein, left vertebral artery, larynx and voice box.

Two machetes were found in a dam near Ms Hoare’s body. A screwdriver was located near the machetes.

Medical evidence was given that either weapon could have inflicted the wounds to Ms Hoare.

It had rained heavily in Walgett about 2.30am on December 9 and muddy shoe prints were found in the hospital ward where Ms Hoare had been working and near the car.

Walgett is 690km north-west of Sydney and 279km north of Dubbo. It has a hot, semi-arid climate

Walgett is 690km north-west of Sydney and 279km north of Dubbo. It has a hot, semi-arid climate

The Fernando cousins took Sandra Hoare to one of two ovals (pictured) at Walgett where Vester raped the nurse while Brendan held her down

The Fernando cousins took Sandra Hoare to one of two ovals (pictured) at Walgett where Vester raped the nurse while Brendan held her down

Three sets of footprints led away from the hospital to a timbered area near the town’s Number 2 rugby oval where Ms Hoare had been raped by the cousins. 

The footprints continued to where Ms Hoare’s body was discovered in a paddock about 400m from the hospital. 

Vester later denied having been near the hospital on the night or possessing any machetes. 

He admitted encountering Mr Walford but said he was holding a small iron bar he had found rather than any sharp weapon. 

The case against Brendan was in part circumstantial but also relied upon admissions taken down in a police notebook signed by him, an electronically recorded interview and a recorded ‘runaround’ at the scene of the crime.

Brendan agreed to take police to where Ms Hoare had been raped and killed but told them ‘I don’t want to go too close to where it happened.’

He claimed he had only gone to the hospital to steal a car and Vester had decided to abduct the nurse after she saw them.   

The CCTV vision of Vester Fernando taken at Mid North Coast Correctional Centre allegedly captures him walking away from a stabbing, tracking what appears to be blood on his shoes

The CCTV vision of Vester Fernando taken at Mid North Coast Correctional Centre allegedly captures him walking away from a stabbing, tracking what appears to be blood on his shoes

After the attack Fernando calmly raises his hands in the air as prison officers approach him then lies on the floor. The two-time killer has been charged with attempted murder

After the attack Fernando calmly raises his hands in the air as prison officers approach him then lies on the floor. The two-time killer has been charged with attempted murder

Brendan told police Vester had assaulted an old man in the geriatric ward and kidnapped Ms Hoare with a machete held to her throat. 

‘He said, “You scream bitch you goin’ to get it. I’ll cut your throat you c***. Simple as that, you slut”. He took her and started going scrub.’

Brendan denied sexually assaulting Ms Hoare but said he held her legs while Vester put the machete to her throat and raped her under a tree near the town’s rugby oval. 

‘He told her to lay down,’ Brenda told police. ‘She laid down. He told me to hold both her legs. I had no other choice so I grabbed them.

‘He had the blade pressed to her throat and, and he had her by the head and his hand over his mouth.’ 

Brendan claimed he did not see what happened after the sexual assault but he knew Vester had killed Ms Hoare. 

‘I had my back turned walking away,’ he told police. Asked if he saw the machete blows he said: ‘No. I heard her screaming but.’ 

The cousins were jointly indicted on charges of murder and aggravated sexual assault. Both pleaded not guilty and after a lengthy trial a jury found otherwise.

Sandra Hoare's mother Pauline (pictured) has said footage of Vester Fernando allegedly stabbing another inmate has brought back terrible memories of her daughter's murder

Sandra Hoare’s mother Pauline (pictured) has said footage of Vester Fernando allegedly stabbing another inmate has brought back terrible memories of her daughter’s murder 

Vester Fernando (pictured) stabbed his cousin Brendan to death in Lithgow Correctional Centre. Vester blamed Brendan for his murder conviction and life sentence

Vester Fernando (pictured) stabbed his cousin Brendan to death in Lithgow Correctional Centre. Vester blamed Brendan for his murder conviction and life sentence

Justice Alan Abadee said the killing was ‘accompanied by unbelievable savagery’. He could not imagine the terror Ms Hoare must have felt when she was abducted. 

Both cousins were jailed life for the murder and ten years for the sexual assault. Each subsequently unsuccessfully appealed against his conviction and sentence.

The Court of Criminal Appeal judges found Ms Hoare had been taken from her workplace, where she had a right to feel safe, and subjected to physical and mental torture. 

‘This was a case involving two strong men killing a young defenceless and vulnerable woman who had done them no harm and committed with callous indifference to human life,’ they found.

Vester was held for some time at Goulburn jail, while Brendan was locked up in Lithgow. In May 1999 the pair was reunited at the latter prison.  

The older cousin was initially kept in segregation because of fears he might harm Brendan but they both asked the jail’s governor to be allowed to associate and that request was eventually granted.

Walgett (pictured) is a town of about 2,100 people in the north west of NSW.  It takes its name from an Aboriginal word meaning 'the meeting place of two rivers' and was listed as one of the most socially disadvantaged areas in the state in the 2015 Dropping Off The Edge report

Walgett (pictured) is a town of about 2,100 people in the north west of NSW.  It takes its name from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘the meeting place of two rivers’ and was listed as one of the most socially disadvantaged areas in the state in the 2015 Dropping Off The Edge report

On September 22 Vester stabbed Brendan to death with one half of a pair of scissors during a music lesson in Lithgow’s education block auditorium.  

Vester, who blamed Brendan for his conviction and sentence, pleaded guilty to murder and showed no regret, remorse or contrition. 

Justice Rod Howie put Vester away for 30 more years with a minimum 22-year term, describing the sentencing exercise as ‘academic’.

The now 50-year-old is now accused of stabbing a 26-year-old inmate in the neck, chest and back at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre near Kempsey on April 8. 

Horrific memories came flooding back for Ms Hoare’s mother Pauline when footage of the jailhouse attack emerged, allegedly showing Vester attempting to become a three-time killer.

‘It really takes you back 25 years ago when the trauma first happened,’ Ms Hoare told Nine News. ‘I know for as long as I live I will never forgive him.

‘You become angry not only with the murderer but also the jail officials, what are they doing that doesn’t stop these multi-murderers from offending inside the jail?

‘If every mother had a daughter like mine, what a beautiful world it would be.’

Vester Fernando is now being held in the country's most secure jail, the High Risk Management Correctional Centre known as Supermax at Goulburn

Vester Fernando is now being held in the country’s most secure jail, the High Risk Management Correctional Centre known as Supermax at Goulburn

 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk