News, Culture & Society

Western Australia: Francis John Wark given 18-year sentence for manslaughter of Hayley Dodd

Convicted rapist who killed teen girl more than two decades ago is handed one of the longest sentences for manslaughter Australia has ever seen

  • Convicted rapist Francis John Wark, 65, killed 17-year-old teenager Hayley Dodd
  • She was last seen alive in 1999 walking along a road about 200km north of Perth
  • Judge said Wark stopped at side of road and attacked Hayley in ‘violent struggle’ 
  • WA Supreme Court ruling overturned murder verdict from judge-alone 2018 trial
  • Judge on Tuesday said killing was one of the ‘worst cases’ of manslaughter ever 

A convicted rapist found guilty of killing teenager Hayley Dodd two decades ago has been told he will spend 18 years in jail for her manslaughter – one of the longest sentences ever for the offence in Australia. 

The West Australian Supreme Court last month acquitted Francis John Wark, 65, of the 17-year-old’s murder but found him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter after a six-week retrial.  

The Mandurah teenager was last seen alive in 1999, walking along a road near rural Badgingarra, about 200km north of Perth. 

Justice Stephen Hall found Wark had stopped at the side of the road and attacked Hayley in a ‘violent struggle’ when she tried to resist him.

The March ruling overturned the verdict from a judge-alone trial in 2018 which had found Wark not guilty of wilful murder but guilty of murder.

Justice Hall on Tuesday said the killing was one of the ‘worst cases of manslaughter’ ever.

He said the 18-year jail sentence handed down was the strongest ever in WA legal history, with the next highest being 12 years in prison.

Hayley Dodd was last seen alive in 1999, walking along a road near rural Badgingarra, about 200 kilometres north of Perth

Wark was charged in 2015 following a cold case review and had been serving a 12-year prison term at the time for raping a woman he picked up in a remote part of Queensland in 2007. 

The convicted rapist, who owned a property in Badgingarra near where Ms Dodd was last seen, denied involvement in the teenager’s disappearance.  

During the recent re-trial for the murder of Ms Dodd, Director of Public Prosecutions Amanda Forrester SC argued Wark had sexual intentions when he lured Ms Dodd into a borrowed Holden ute. 

‘(The opportunity) was brief and it was unexpected but it was there and he took it. He took Hayley Dodd and he killed her,’ she said. 

The jury was told Wark then dumped her body, which has never been found.  

Wark claimed to have an alibi for the last time Ms Dodd was seen alive – maintaining he was a 40-minute drive away running errands in Moora.

In 2018, Wark was found guilty of murdering the hitchhiker after luring her into a ute near rural Badgingarra on July 29, 1999. This decision was then overturned on appeal to manslaughter. On Tuesday, he was told he would spend 18 years in prison

In 2018, Wark was found guilty of murdering the hitchhiker after luring her into a ute near rural Badgingarra on July 29, 1999. This decision was then overturned on appeal to manslaughter. On Tuesday, he was told he would spend 18 years in prison

Wark’s lawyer argued his client was physically incapable of committing the crime due to the timeframe. 

Ms Dodd’s mother Margaret appeared in court, accompanied by family, friends and detectives.

The slain teen’s loved ones gasped and broke down as the verdict was read out, while her sister ran out of the courtroom in tears. 

Outside court, Hayley’s mother Margaret Dodd – who has fought for justice for her daughter for two decades – urged Wark to reveal the location of Hayley’s body.

Wark claimed to have an alibi for the last time Ms Dodd was seen alive - maintaining he was a 40-minute drive away running errands in Moora

Wark claimed to have an alibi for the last time Ms Dodd was seen alive – maintaining he was a 40-minute drive away running errands in Moora

‘Ideally we would have wanted murder but we got manslaughter, so at least he’s not going to get out for a good while,’ she told reporters.

‘I just hope now that he tells us where Hayley is.’

Ms Dodd said going through two trials had taken a heavy toll on the family.

‘It’s been agonising, quite honestly, for the whole family,’ she said.

‘It’s not just me, it’s my children, it’s my grandchildren, it’s my great-grandchildren. We’re suffering generations down.

‘They all know who Hayley is. She’ll never be forgotten.’ 

More to come 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk