By Amy McQuire, April 24, 2013, Tracker Magazine.
NATIONAL: Lateesha Nolan’s four children miss their mother every day. They were young went she went missing from Dubbo in north western NSW in January 2005; the youngest, who was a baby, can’t remember her.
But sometimes they leave spare change near a picture of her, which is enshrined in their grandmother’s loungeroom. When they need money they go get it from the picture frame, as if she was giving it to them – to “pretend mum is here”.
That is just one sad detail read out in their victim impact statement in the Supreme Court in April, in front of the man who has pleaded guilty to killing their mother – Malcolm John Naden.
Naden went missing in June 2005, after the body of his cousin’s partner Kristy Scholes was found in his room.
Five months earlier, Lateesha – his first cousin – had gone missing, last seen outside the same house.
That began a seven year long investigation to catch Naden, who eluded police across regional New South Wales until he was finally captured in the Barrington Tops in March 2012, ending one of the state’s largest manhunts.
Naden pleaded guilty to 18 charges against him – including the murders of Lateesha and Kristy and the sexual assault of a minor –in March this year.
Last month he appeared in the Supreme Court again for sentencing where he faced the family members of Kristy and Lateesha, many of whom are his own family members.
For many, this was the first time they had laid eyes on him for eight years.
Naden stared straight ahead for the majority of the proceedings, but fidgeted constantly and spent a lot of the time with his hands cupping his chin.
Lateesha’s children did not read their Victim Impact Statement tendered to the court. But they told of how they are “reminded about her everyday” and how they “have to tell people that nan is not our mum”.
Lateesha’s body has never been found.
“We are waiting for her to be found,” the statement said.
“… Not one day goes by without us thinking of her… it feels like a big piece has been taken from our hearts.”
Kristy’s two children also made statements, which were read to the court by a representative.
Her son said he had “photos and memories… but not what I need most… my mummy”.
Kristy’s daughter said she was four years old when her mother passed. She was very scared and confused.
“I had to grow up without her,” the statement read.
“I miss her… I will see her again when Jesus comes back.”
Lateesha’s mum Joan Nolan’s statement said that when you “lose your child to murder it leaves you with a pain that never goes away”.
“…It doesn’t get any easier with the years,” the statement read.
Ms Nolan said she wanted to bring Lateesha home to “lay her to rest with her family”.
Lateesha’s father Mick Peet read his own statement to the court, stating that he felt guilty when he heard she was missing.
He says that he can’t get over her death and had to access counseling services.
“I felt physically sick. My stomach turns until I vomit.”
He believes his health problems are tied to the pain and stress of his daughter’s murder.
Mr Peet addressed Naden and asked “the question is why?”
“Lateesha trusted you,” he told Naden, who didn’t change his expression throughout proceedings.
“She was family… she was blood…. You hurt her… you took away her future.”
Kristy’s uncle Tony Scholes read out an impact statement on behalf of his brother David – Kristy’s dad.
“My heart is weak,” the statement read.
“… I cope one day at a time.”
David’s statement read that “I can’t call (Naden) a man… he doesn’t rate as one to me.”
He said Naden had “robbed” him of his chance to celebrate the milestones in his daughter’s life, like walking her down the aisle.
“I can’t understand why. For seven years I’ve been wondering why? Why has he done this?”
The statement said he used to sit up at night and listen to the police scanner.
“I have to live each day with grief…. No parent should have to bury their child.”
Lateesha and Malcolm’s aunty Janette Lancaster’s victim impact statement was also read to the court.
She said the trauma of losing her niece and Kristy, who she considered a niece, had an irreparable impact on the extended family.
“I’m in turmoil because Malcolm is my nephew,” the statement read…
“… How could I have loved the man responsible for the death of my two nieces?”
Kristy’s aunty Alison Morris read out her own statement, breaking down in tears on the stand.
She said Kristy was “like a daughter to me”.
“Our lives will never be the same,” she said.
Ms Morris spoke about her own grief following Kristy’s death, how she stopped going to church and began drinking heavily, “on the road to destruction”.
She said the effect on Kristy’s kids was “heartbreaking”.
Kristy’s son has “really bad nights” when he “would cry so much”.
Ms Morris said sometimes she had to pull out Kristy’s clothes.
“He would fall asleep wrapped in his mother’s clothes,” she said.
Malcolm Naden was due to appear at another sentencing hearing at the time of press.