By Amy McQuire, March 23, 2013, Tracker Magazine.
NATIONAL: For the family of Kristy Scholes, this was the first time laying eyes on the man who has now admitted to killing their loved one.
Malcolm John Naden appeared in Sydney’s Supreme Court on March 22 – exactly one year after his dramatic capture – and pled guilty to the murders of Ms Scholes and another Aboriginal mother – his first cousin – Lateesha Nolan.
He appeared skinny and gaunt in prison greens and stared straight ahead as he stood while the charges were read out to him.
He barely glanced at the public gallery, where the family members of Ms Scholes were seated, as well as a contingent of journalists. He delivered each of his guilty pleas in a clear, concise voice, but faltered slightly when pleading guilty to the murder of his cousin Lateesha.
Mr Naden also pled guilty to an aggravated indecent assault charge of a minor. This was in addition to the charge of shooting with intent to murder a police officer in late 2011 and a string of break-and-enter charges stemming from his seven years on the run.
All up he pled guilty to all 18 charges. He is due to be sentenced in April.
It brings the families of Ms Scholes and Ms Nolan one step closer to some form of closure following the deaths of their loved ones.
When Mr Naden admitted to the murder of Ms Scholes, one of her aunties in the public gallery welled up in tears. It has been a torturous wait for answers.
Ms Nolan, 24 and a mother of four, was last seen on January 2005, outside her grandparent’s house on a housing estate in Dubbo, New South Wales.
It was a case that went largely underreported until Ms Scholes, who was Lateesha’s cousin’s partner, was found dead in that same house, almost six months after.
Lateesha’s body has never been found.
Mr Naden disappeared from Dubbo after Kristy was found and was the target of one of the state’s largest manhunts preceding his capture last month.
Naden had eluded police the previous December when they closed in on him in Nowendoc, in the Northern Tablelands. He allegedly shot a police officer and found himself on the covers of newspapers around the country.
Prior to that he had been the subject of numerous sightings in regional communities across the state, although the majority of these are unsubstantiated.
In February, Mr Naden appeared before court, but the arraignment was pushed back until a fitness hearing could be conducted, following concerns from his lawyer that there was a mental health issue.
Last month it was deemed he was mentally fit to attend trial. Justice Derek Price was told he was “fit to be tried, as it is not his depressive illness (that is) behind his wish to plead guilty”, following psychiatric assessments.
Ms Scholes’ uncle Tony Scholes, the family spokesperson for the Morris, Scholes and Donovon families, told Tracker outside the courthouse there was opportunity for closure for his family.
“I was very angry (seeing Naden for the first time),” Mr Scholes told Tracker.
“It took a lot to force that anger down. But I had to.
“It was very emotional for me. I’m a strong person, but listening to that charge being read out, and him admitting guilt to it, that really had an effect on me.
“There are certainly a lot of unanswered questions. We know there is a lot more, but we also know there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us. We can see that.
“… We were concerned that (with no trial) there wouldn’t be a chance for closure, but we’ve found out there is an opportunity for that closure.”
Lateesha Nolan’s father Mick Peet told Tracker from Queensland that he still wanted to hear what happened to his daughter.
He wants to attend the sentencing, but isn’t sure how he will feel.
“I don’t know how I’m going to go see him eye to eye. I’m gonna have a lot of anger in me.. it’s going to be different,” Mr Peet told Tracker.
“… I’ve still got that big three-letter word of – why? That’s the main thing. Why would you? Why and how could you?”
Mr Peet said that sometimes he still thought the whole ordeal was a dream.
“It was good to hear he admitted to it,” Mr Peet told Tracker.
“But I’ve been thinking of other cases, where you see people done for murder, then they are back on the streets. And the people who are murdered are gone forever.
“… Over the last year, there’s been nothing but heartache and sorrow. And this has affected so many people. I’ve been thinking about Lateesha’s kids growing up without their mum. Kristy’s kids growing up without their mum. It must have been devastating.”
Lateesha’s aunty Margaret Walker, who is also Malcolm’s aunty, and is the family spokesperson for the Nolan family did not want to make a public comment to Tracker, only to say:
“It’s not really over for us until we find Lateesha. It will never be over until we find her.”