The West

Rapist to face murder inquest
Big search: Police at the Badgingarra property. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

The man at the centre of the Hayley Dodd murder investigation will be questioned about another historic murder mystery at an inquest in Queensland next week.

Convicted rapist Francis John Wark is expected to be asked about his movements in December 2005 when mother of five Kathleen Mary O'Shea disappeared from a North Queensland town not far from where he was living at the time.

Wark's former home in Badgingarra, 200km north of Perth, was searched extensively in December by police looking for clues to Hayley's disappearance.

And detectives were back in Badgingarra yesterday searching bushland near the home that is on the same road Hayley was last seen walking along on the day she vanished in 1999.

Wark sold the house and moved to Queensland months later where he is now in prison for raping another young woman he abducted from a roadside in 2007.

On the night Kathleen O'Shea vanished in 2005, she had been playing pool at a hotel in the town of Atherton and was last seen heading off down the main street to find a taxi.

She was never seen again and her body has not been found.

Wark - who was living about 30km from Atherton in the nearby town of Millaa Millaa - is expected to appear at the inquest to be held in Cairns next Thursday.

It is not known if he has been questioned about the case previously, or if he had an alibi for the night of Ms O'Shea's disappearance.

Ms O'Shea, 44, was originally from Melbourne, but was in Queensland for the birth of her first grandchild.

She was reported missing by her family when she failed to catch a return flight home to Melbourne.

Her five children have pushed for the inquest, hoping it could shed new light on a case that has baffled investigators for more than eight years.

Wark is serving a 12-year jail term for the 2007 rape the trial judge described as a "sadistic and sustained" attack on a young woman who had accepted a lift from him as she was hitch-hiking home.

During the attack, Wark tied the woman to his bed and told her he was going to "keep her", but she managed to escape the next day and ran naked to a nearby house for help.

In December, police spent more than three weeks searching his former Badgingarra home, even pulling up concrete floors inside the house as well as septic tanks looking for anything that could link him to Hayley.

It is understood nothing significant was found at the property.

Wark shared the home with convicted paedophile John Robert McConnell, but both men had alibis for the time Hayley vanished.

McConnell died in a quad bike accident.

More searches in the Badgingarra area are planned for the coming weeks.

The West Australian

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