A truck driver who says he picked up a missing teenage hitchhiker on the day she disappeared has told the Supreme Court she seemed a “very bubbly” and “happy” girl.
Hayley Dodd was last seen on July 29 1999 walking along a road near Badgingarra in the Wheatbelt.
Francis John Wark, 61, lived in the area at the time and is on trial charged with Ms Dodd’s murder, having been extradited in 2015 from Queensland where he was in jail for rape.
Truck driver Donald Wayne Spry — who was taking earthmoving equipment from Walkaway to Perth on the day Ms Dodd disappeared — said he gave the teenager a lift to Badgingarra after she knocked on his window at a service station near Dongara, about 180 kilometres away.
Mr Spry, 55, said Ms Dodd was a “very tiny little girl” who told him she was going to visit farming friends in Moora.
“She [had] done some work there with sheep before, apparently,” he told the court.
Mr Spry said the pair chatted during the drive, with the 17-year-old Ms Dodd laughing at his jokes “just to be nice, I suppose”.
“[She was a] very bubbly girl. She was so happy,” he said.
Mr Spry said she appeared to be about 14 years old and had with long dark hair.
“Just a very young little girl … like a child,” he said.
He told the court the pair mostly talked about horses, including his experience in rodeo and on cattle stations in the Kimberley.
“She was quite interested in that. She didn’t like any of my music,” he said.
Truckie offered to give teen lift home
Mr Spry said he dropped Ms Dodd at a Badgingarra service station and told her to call his mobile number if she wanted a lift back to Dongara, where she had been working as a rouseabout.
“She wanted to get back [to Dongara] as quick as she possibly could,” Mr Spry said.
“It wasn’t going to be that long away.”
He said he also gave the teenager $15 to buy something to eat, after she said she had no money in her bank account.
Mr Spry told the court he was watching television three days later when he saw a news story about the missing teenager.
“It was the young girl that asked me for a ride. I rung the police straight away,” he said.
The trial continues.