Outback hospital's brutal message to staff before nurse found murdered

A man with an extensive history of violent sexual offending "slipped through the cracks" before he brutally raped and murdered outback nurse Gayle Woodford, the South Australian deputy coroner has heard.

Ms Woodford's husband, Keith, says safety issues were repeatedly raised with management but nurses were told "if you don't like it, leave".

The 56-year-old's body was found buried in a crude grave three days after she went missing from her Fregon home, in SA's north, in 2016.

Dudley Davey subsequently pleaded guilty to her rape and murder and is serving a minimum 32-year jail term.

It's believed Davey tricked Ms Woodford into opening a security cage around her home and overpowered her as she walked to her ambulance.

Gayle Woodford's body was found buried in a grave three days after she went missing. Source: AAP

Opening an inquest into her death on Monday, counsel assisting Ahura Kalali said a "catalogue of blunders" meant Davey "slipped through the cracks" and was left unsupervised at the time of the murder.

He said Davey should have qualified for the national child offender register which would have allowed police to monitor and share information about him.

The inquest will also look into whether an application was made to indefinitely detain him, under a law that locks up offenders unwilling to control their sexual instincts.

Other issues to be examined will be the overall safety of remote area nurses and the presence of police in such communities.

Victim was safety conscious

An emotional Mr Woodford said his wife was "very safety conscious", but the nurses were regularly put in situations where they went alone to visit the homes of patients.

He rejected claims by a senior executive of Nganampa Health Council that Ms Woodford could have let herself out of the cage for a personal errand when she was attacked.

"That statement is disgusting," he said.

"To think she was out there doing anything else but her job is absolutely woeful."

Ms Woodford's death sparked policy changes designed to protect nurses from similar violent attacks.

Dudley Davey pleaded guilty to Ms Woodford's rape and murder. Source: Facebook

Murder could have been avoided

Mr Woodford said if the laws had been in place earlier, his wife's murder would have been prevented.

The court also heard from Ms Woodford's colleague in Fregon, fellow nurse Belinda Schultz.

Ms Schultz said medical staff encountered violence almost daily during their work.

"A day without an incident was a good day," she said.

She added that it was not practical or safe for nurses to make assessments from behind the cage, and that it was sometimes opened as a refuge for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

The inquest is expected to run for two weeks before deputy coroner Anthony Schapel.

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