Louise O’Brien’s grieving mother is still haunted, knowing her teenage daughter’s body was buried just metres from her home.
Kathy McDonald’s house in the Wollongong suburb of Bellambi is only one street away from Patricia Goddard’s Chounding Crescent yard where Louise’s skeletal remains were found inside a wheelie bin which was buried underground last year.
When I found out the police had dug a body up out of the backyard, I knew straight away … I knew it was Louise. I just felt numb, I still do … I haven’t wrapped my head around it, I don’t think I ever will
In the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, Goddard pleaded guilty to manslaughter over the killing of the 18-year-old. Goddard, 73, admitted that on October 12, 2008, the young girl was struck in the head, probably with a hammer, while staying at Goddard’s home and that she stood by and watched her die.
The ambulance and police were called to Goddard’s home by neighbours, but Goddard kept the badly injured girl hidden from view.
Ms McDonald said she can no longer look over her fence, towards the house or the backyard, where the grisly discovery was made.
“It haunts me, I have nightmares about it,” she said.
Ms McDonald still remembers the day she learned of Louise’s death and the numbness she felt.
“Someone rang me and said something had happened to [Goddard] as there were police and an ambulance at her house … I thought she’d had a fall, I was thinking of her,” she said.
“I went round there, I saw Goddard walking with the police and they told me to move on.
“I thought I’d be nosy and I stood in the park watching and things started going through my mind, I wondered if maybe it had something to do with Louise.
“When I found out the police had dug a body up out of the backyard, I knew straight away … I knew it was Louise.
“I just felt numb, I still do … I haven’t wrapped my head around it, I don’t think I ever will.”
For months after Louise’s death she was regarded as a missing person, an impression reinforced by Goddard’s daughter, Tracey Taylor, who told the teenager’s mother that her daughter had moved to Melbourne and wanted nothing to do with her family.
Police found the teenager’s remains in a wheelie bin buried at the house, following a tip from an unnamed witness.
A local tradesman later came forward, telling police he had been hired to dig a bin-sized hole alongside Goddard’s home, which he had been told was for a dog.
Goddard will now give evidence against her daughter in relation to the crime.
Taylor, 46, who was charged with accessory to murder over the crime, has now been charged with accessory to manslaughter.
Ms McDonald admitted she was disappointed that Taylor had been granted bail yesterday, conceding it was a “difficult” outcome to hear.
After nearly two years walking the judicial process, Ms McDonald is now even more determined to fight for justice for Louise and other victims of crime.
“It will never be over for me … but I want to do everything I can for her … whether it’s speaking out or talking to the DPP, I will do what I can,” she said yesterday.
She admitted she and her 28-year-old son were still struggling with their grief and missed Louise every day.
“[My son] has become very quiet … it’s a matter of how he’s going to be able to start explaining his emotions,” she said.