THE convicted rapist accused of murdering Mandurah teenager Hayley Dodd 18 years ago gets underway this week.
Francis John Wark has denied killing the 17-year-old girl, who was last seen alive walking along a road near Badgingarra, 200km north of Perth, on July 29, 1999.
His trial will be heard before a judge alone after Wark argued he could not have a fair jury trial because of publicity surrounding his case.
Supreme Court Justice Janine Pritchard granted his request in June.
She also agreed to allow the prosecution to use “propensity evidence” provided by a woman who Wark repeatedly raped and assaulted in Queensland in 2007.
Wark admitted attacking Ms Dodd, who he did not know, after he saw her walking alone along a country road and offered her a lift to a nearby town.
She agreed to go to his house for a drink but when she tried to leave, he attacked her in a “violent, denigrating and humiliating” way, Justice Pritchard said, and told her he wanted to keep one of her earrings before she managed to escape.
Justice Pritchard noted an earring was found in a car seat cover in Wark’s ute, which was seized a month after Ms Dodd disappeared.
No DNA was recovered from it but prosecutors say the jewellery matched a drawing, made by a friend of Ms Dodd’s, of earrings she was believed to have been wearing at the time she vanished.
Defence counsel, however, argues earrings of the same description were sold in the area.
A hair recovered from the ute was forensically examined and produced a mitochondrial profile the State said was consistent with Ms Dodd and her mother.
Justice Pritchard said the State’s case was “a wholly circumstantial one”.
She said the “tipping point” in granting the judge-alone trial was the prejudicial impact of reports that Wark was suspected of involvement in the disappearance of a woman not far from his home in Queensland in 2005.
He denied any involvement and had to give evidence at her inquest.
Ms Dodd’s body has not been found.
Justice Lindy Jenkins will preside over Wark’s trial.