Hayley Dodd murder trial begins 18 years after WA teen vanished

The trial of a convicted rapist who is accused of murdering West Australian teenager Hayley Dodd 18 years ago begins 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.

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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.