Nurse's death brings a 'dark cloud' to SA

Tim Dornin
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Nurse's death brings a 'dark cloud' to SA

Nurse's death brings a 'dark cloud' to SA

The murder of outback nurse Gayle Woodford has cast a "dark cloud" over the community of Fregon, in South Australia's north, where the "kind and dedicated" nurse treated everyone justly and fairly, a court has heard.

In a victim impact statement delivered on behalf of all people on the state's Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, Ms Woodford's death was described as one of the biggest losses suffered by the local community in living memory.

"A dark cloud covered Fregon since the day Gayle's body was discovered in a shallow grave," community leaders said in the statement read to the Supreme Court on Monday by SA's Commissioner of Victims' Rights Michael O'Connell.

"Such dark cloud has cast a shadow since then. Only a few have found a glimmer of light."

Mrs Woodford was killed in March last year after being taken from her Fregon home, in SA's north, with her body found three days later.

Dudley Davey, 35, has pleaded guilty to her rape and murder and will be sentenced on Thursday.

Few details of exactly what happened have been revealed although the court was told that the final blows delivered to the 56-year-old came as she lay face down on the ground and Davey then stomped twice on the back of her neck.

In the community statement, Mr O'Connell said Mrs Woodford was regarded by all as a "nice lady who looked after everyone".

"She made sure that all in Fregon and the other places she worked, were given proper care," he said.

"Gayle was not scared of the Aboriginal people. She treated the able and the disabled, the frail and unwell, the educated and the uneducated, the employed and the unemployed, justly and fairly.

"Gayle was a kind and dedicated nurse who truly nursed as nursing should be done.

"She was one of the warmest people to ever work in Fregon."

Community leaders have also told the court that Davey, who has a long history of offending, would never be welcome in the APY lands again.

They said he should never be allowed to "return to country" upon his release from prison.

"He is not welcome, ever," they said.

In previous sentencing submissions relatives, friends and colleagues of Mrs Woodford sobbed while giving their own victim impact statements, with her husband calling for her killer to never be freed.

A fellow nurse described the "dysfunction" and "confronting violence" of the Fregon community while her daughter spoke of the "destruction and devastation" wrought on her family.

Mrs Woodford's husband Keith Woodford told the court he feared Davey would offend again if ever paroled.

"I beg this court never to let Dudley Davey out again," he said.

"I believe he will only reoffend."

On Monday, Mr Woodford left the court at one stage, glaring and pointing angrily at Davey as he left.