Two sisters, two continents, two tragedies: Family devastated by double-death tragedy

Tracey Bonnell's parents Marie and Ken West
Tracey Bonnell's parents Marie and Ken West
  • Bond between sisters thousands of miles apart
  • Marie’s daughter Tracey Bonnell was beaten to death by her husband at their home in Skerton
  • Marie hopes justice can finally be found for Margaret, her family, and for missing Hayley
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It is a tale of two sisters from Lancaster united in terrible tragedies at different sides of the world.

Now the discovery of an earring belonging to Hayley Dodd, missing for 16 years, has brought home what they already suspected – both their daughters have died as the result of terrible crimes.

Margaret couldn’t believe it had happened to our family twice

Margaret Dodd’s daughter Hayley, then 17, went missing in Western Australia in 1999 and was presumed a victim of abduction and murder though she was never found.

Margaret’s sister Marie West’s daughter Tracey – Hayley’s cousin – was brutally murdered by her husband in Skerton just two years previously.

Now, after the new evidence emerges into Hayley’s disappearance, they tell their heartbreaking story.

Marie’s Story

For tragedy to strike a family once is terrible enough. But for two sisters to lose a daughter in horrific circumstances is almost beyond belief.

Although thousands of miles in distance separate Marie West from her sister Margaret, they are bonded not only by family ties but by the shared pain of what happened to their daughters.

In 1997, just two years before Hayley Dodd went missing in Australia, Marie’s daughter Tracey Bonnell was beaten to death by her husband at their home in Skerton.

Aged 23, Tracey was struck 27 times with a piece of wood by David Bonnell, who later admitted murder and was jailed. Tracey’s dad Ken was one of the first paramedics on the scene.

Bonnell was released from prison in June 2012, but Tracey’s family successfully campaigned to have him excluded from a wide area of the North West.

Now Marie hopes justice can finally be found for Margaret, her family, and for Hayley.

“Margaret has never had closure. But she has never given up.”

Margaret and Marie were two of nine children. They grew up in Skerton and each raised families. Eight years separated Tracey and Hayley when Margaret and her family emigrated in 1990.

“We never got to see Hayley again after that,” said Marie.

Since then Marie has been out to Australia to visit Margaret twice, the last time in 2006, and they speak on the phone.

“She will ring me up and most of the time she copes really well, but sometimes she will ring up all upset.”

But the fact that one of Margaret’s first thoughts when Hayley went missing was for her sister, meant a great deal to Marie.

At the time, Tracey’s murder was still fresh in Marie’s memory. So Margaret didn’t tell her about Hayley straight away, to save her heartache.

Marie said: “Margaret couldn’t believe it had happened to our family twice.”

Read Margaret’s story HERE