THE lawyer defending a convicted rapist accused of murdering West Australian teenager Hayley Dodd in 1999 says a key piece of physical evidence against his client could have been planted by police.
The judge-alone Supreme Court of WA trial of Francis John Wark is wrapping up, with defence counsel Darryl Ryan targeting an ankh-shaped earring matching a description of the style the 17-year-old was wearing when she went missing in his closing submissions on Friday.
The earring was only found in September 2013 when a car bench seat cover that police seized one week after Hayley vanished was finally examined at the state forensic laboratory.
The trial heard the evidence bag was open because the adhesive had delaminated.
“The possibility that the earring was planted is open and it cannot be excluded,” Mr Ryan said.
“There’s an opportunity for that to have happened.
“If everything had been done by the book, we’d have nothing to point to.”
Mr Ryan said police had a motive to plant the earring, which was mass-produced and depicted an Egyptian symbol that was thousands of years old.
An officer took over the investigation when no progress was being made and things that should have been done were not being done, and if that emerged at a pending inquest, police would have been embarrassed, Mr Ryan said.
“Miraculously, after 14 years of no progress in solving the case, the earring appears,” he said.
Prosecutors argued the fact the hook on the earring was bent suggested a violent struggle, but Mr Ryan said it might be expected blood or skin would have been left behind in that scenario.
No DNA was recovered from the earring.
Justice Lindy Jenkins is expected to hand down her verdict on January 15 next year.