Outback town ‘so violent it should be shut down’
THE Far North settlement of Fregon has been described as "lawless" and like the Wild West during an inquest into the murder of nurse Gayle Woodford in 2016.
Retired GP Dr Glynis Johns told the inquest that she believed the settlement should be closed down because of the extent of the violence.
She said the measure was not meant to be a punishment but a way of keeping the community safe.
"This is not meant as a punitive measure," she said.
"Fregon wasn't a functioning community, I suppose you might call it a failed state.
"There was no plan, no leadership and only dysfunction in the community.
"These are people who are marginalised and have suffered a lot, we have an obligation to provide a safe environment, especially to for women and children who are often the victims of violence.
"I think Gayle's death has provided an opportunity to talk about this."
Dr Johns contrasted the violence of Fregon with Ampilawatja, a Northern Territory community she had also worked in.
"It is a peaceful community where there are few incidents and no need for police," she said.
"I was there for six months over an 18 month period and there was never one violence incident."
Dr Johns told a story about walking down the street with her colleagues in the middle of the days when a respected man in the community was walking towards her holding a machete.
"He was walking erratically and the machete was glinting in the sun," she said.
"But we knew he wasn't there for us and we shouldn't get involved. He walked past muttering in his language.
"When he was out of war shot I remember saying this is like the old Wild West, a lawless place."
Ms Woodford was the on-call nurse the night she was abducted, raped and murdered by Davey on March 23, 2016.
The clinic ambulance that had been parked outside her house was missing.
GPS in the ambulance led police to Davey and subsequently Ms Woodford's body, buried in a shallow grave, 1.5km from Fregon.
Mr Kalali said that if not for the GPS, police would have faced a near impossible challenge of finding Ms Woodford's body.
The inquest continues.