News WA police suspend search for remains of Hayley Dodd

WA police suspend search for remains of Hayley Dodd

Hayley Dodd went missing in Western Australia in 1999. Photo: Australian Missing Persons Register/AAP
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West Australian police have abandoned a fresh search for the remains of teenager Hayley Dodd at her killer’s former home.

Special crime detectives and forensic officers have spent the past three days searching the property at rural Badgingarra, near where Hayley was last seen in 1999.

It was formerly occupied by Francis John Wark, who was acquitted by a WA Supreme Court jury of murdering Hayley after a six-week retrial but found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Wark, 65, was last week jailed for 18 years – a record manslaughter sentence in WA.

The fresh search was sparked by comments Wark made during his retrial in relation to what might be underneath a large water tank.

The sprawling property was extensively searched after Hayley’s disappearance but officers did not look under the tank at that time.

Police this week demolished the tank so they could drill to a depth of two metres underneath but their search was unsuccessful.

“The search at a property in Badgingarra has concluded and will not continue tomorrow,” WA Police said in a brief statement on Thursday.

“The remains of Hayley Dodd were not located within the search area.”

Hayley was 17 when she was last seen alive in July 1999, walking along a road near Badgingarra, about 200 kilometres north of Perth.

Her body has never been found.

Wark will be eligible for parole after 16 years but is subject to the state’s “no body, no parole” law.

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson earlier on Thursday said he had no doubt Wark knew where Hayley’s remains were.

Detectives are likely to re-interview Wark in relation to the latest search but Mr Dawson suggested it could be a futile exercise.

“He’s had plenty of opportunity,” the commissioner said.

“He’s spent a long time in custody and he’s got a long time to go.”

In his sentencing remarks, Justice Stephen Hall found Wark had lured Hayley into his ute with an intention to sexually assault her and had attacked her when she resisted.

He then disposed of her body with “callous disregard” in a way that ensured he would not be linked to her death.

Wark was only charged in 2015 after a cold case review linked an earring and a strand of hair found in the ute to Hayley.

He has been behind bars since 2007, when he was jailed for raping a woman he picked up in a remote part of Queensland.

-AAP