‘No body, no parole’ laws give murder victim’s mother fresh hope
Robyn Hudson held a memorial at Mullaloo Beach on the anniversary of her son’s death. (ABC News: Eliza Laschon)
Mullaloo Beach, on Perth’s northern coastline, is the closest place Robyn Hudson has to a memorial for her only child Wade Dunn.
She has never been able to say a final goodbye or visit his resting place because his remains have never, and are unlikely to ever, be found.
Mr Dunn, a 40-year-old father, was murdered by two men in what was described as “horrific circumstances” in May 2015, where he was bashed to death and dismembered with a chainsaw.
From that day, Ms Hudson’s life was never the same.
She remembers the week he went missing.
“All that week I felt uneasy until the Friday when Wade’s dad said, ‘Have you heard from Wade?’, and I knew straight away he was gone. And that killed me,” Ms Hudson said.
“He was the most loving father, one of the best friends you could ever, ever have. Beautiful heart. [He] had the biggest heart in the whole entire world.
“His family meant everything to him.”
Another life nearly lost
Ms Hudson has not only lived through the loss of her only child, but had to sit through the court proceedings that saw the men responsible sentenced to life in prison.
Ms Hudson began a tireless fight to recover her son’s remains, believing it was all she could do to find some closure for his loved ones.
Ms Hudson says her son Wade was a loving father with a ‘beautiful’ heart. (ABC News: Eliza Laschon)
As the years passed, her hope faded and turned to near desperation.
About a year ago, Ms Hudson enlisted the help of tracker Kevin Cameron to search areas of bushland where her son’s remains might be.
Another ray of hope came a couple of months later, when police scoured a nature reserve near New Norcia, north-east of Perth.
The efforts came to no avail.
“I ran out of hope probably eight months ago,” Ms Hudson said.
On several occasions, she attempted to take her own life.
“I am not hopeful that Wade’s remains will be found,” Ms Hudson said.
“We’ve basically been told it’s just about impossible.”
Finding justice in the system
While Ms Hudson was losing hope, another campaign was being undertaken by the State Government in the form of its ‘no body, no parole’ laws.
The legislation passed Western Australia’s Parliament on Tuesday.
It means that convicted murderers who refuse to cooperate with police in locating the remains of their victims will not be eligible for parole once their minimum sentence has been served.
Ms Hudson enlisted tracker Kevin Cameron to try to locate her son’s remains in bushland in Perth’s northern suburbs. (ABC News: Eliza Laschon)
Now, Mr Dunn’s killers may never set foot out of jail.
“[I’ve] gone from losing all hope, to yesterday,” Ms Hudson said.
“I can’t even describe how I feel. I am over the moon. I want to jump out of my skin. I want to hug Margaret Dodd.”
Mrs Dodd is the mother of teenager Hayley Dodd, whose murderer was found guilty in January 18 years after her disappearance in the Wheatbelt.
Mrs Dodd long campaigned for change within the justice system, even before her daughter’s killer was found.
“It’s given me my hope in humanity. In the system, the justice system. I am absolutely gobsmacked,” Ms Hudson said.
Ms Hudson and her family join the Dodds and other WA families who have never been able to lay their loved ones to rest.
Laws already having an impact
Mr Quigley said the man only came forward because of the change in laws. (ABC News: Kate Lambe)
The McGowan Government said the new laws affected up to a dozen WA prisoners.
Attorney-General John Quigley revealed that before the legislation had even passed, one prisoner was pleading with him to be allowed to provide more information.
“A prisoner has written to me a two-page letter urging me to contact the police on his behalf to come to the prison and to take him out and he will do all he can to try and locate his victim’s remains,” Mr Quigley told the ABC.
He would not reveal the identity of the man but said he had been convicted in the past “two or three” years and was serving a life sentence at Casuarina Prison.
He stressed he had not spoken to the family of the man’s victim and did not want to get in the way of the police investigation.
“Now the law has passed through the Parliament, the police have got real leverage haven’t they?” Mr Quigley said.
“Because when they go to see this chap, he’ll know that if he doesn’t come up with the goods, he’s going to die in jail.”
The Attorney-General said he believed the laws, one of the McGowan Government’s key pre-election commitments, pushed the man to come forward because the Prisoners Review Board would take into account when prisoners comes forward with useful information.
“It’s no good waiting 18 years and then putting your hand up,” Mr Quigley said.
“You’ll rot in jail because you didn’t [tell police] in time. You left this family out in the cold for 18 years.
Ms Hudson said the new laws have given her new hope in the justice system. (ABC News: Eliza Laschon)
“Even if these laws bring about the recovery of one person’s remains, my whole fight will have been worth it.”
For Ms Hudson, finally, the legislation means some closure.
“It’s given me some sort of small closure, knowing that they’ll never ever get out, ever. Thank you God,” Ms Hudson said.