Vanessa Woodman

Your Tribute

On the 13th February 1997, life as we knew it ended forever. That was the day our beautiful 15 year old daughter was murdered; her throat was cut, she was strangled with such force, that had he not gone on to stab her 32 times, she would never have been able to speak again, as he also destroyed her voice box and he sexually assaulted her. She had never met her killer Nicholas Hawker.

We are an ordinary family and I used to think that it doesn’t happen to people like us, but it does and it did. For her father and me, her sister, brothers, other family, friends, life has never been the same. I am so proud of my children and what they have achieved after losing their sister so horrifically.

Hawker was found guilty and sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment. That meant he had to serve 10 years before being eligible for parole. In 2007 we started attending the first of many parole hearings, then late 2011 he was released by the Parole Board. Within a short time he was recalled to prison for breaching parole conditions. After further parole hearings, he was released again in 2015. The parole process for victims is cruel, agonising, traumatising. The problem is it’s the one time you can speak out and I truly believe we hold the offender and Parole Board more to account because they know we care, and we won’t give up, as we believe Hawker will reoffend and another family will be torn apart. If the offenders served their Judge given sentences we would not have to go through this.

Throughout the years after Nessa died we got caught up in a system we knew nothing about. We didn’t know where to go or who to turn to or what rights we had; it was like we were invisible and that’s when I rang Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust for help. I have since worked with the SST supporting victims through all facets of our legal system for many years now. We have been through depositions, trial, parole hearings, appeals, releases, reimprisonment, further parole hearings and release again. For families of murder victims and serious violent crime it is never over, it is never ending.

I would give everything I have to have my daughter back and I will grieve for her for the rest of my life, however out of this terrible nightmare, I have met some of the most amazing people it is my privilege to know. I will never come to terms with the knowledge that Nessa, my caring, loveable, smart, sassy, gorgeous daughter, died in pain, in terror and alone, but I have come to a place where I have learned to live without her.

I have learned life does go on, not ever the same as before Nessa was murdered, it’s different, but it does go on, there is light at the end of the tunnel, the sun will shine and I have learned to laugh again.

Tribute placed by:
Leigh Woodman
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Miss you. I fell in love with you the very first time i saw you. That was 25 years ago. I will never forget you.

Arabella clare elizabeth tyler-wright

I loved Ness
I was with her at the Discovery Program.
At Saint Pat's.
It was a special place to put us damaged kids together.
She will always be my very first TRUE heartbreak.
The only joy to come from losing Ness was to meet Marian.
And to realize my worth is as strong as my word.
Vanessa I will always be strong because of your own vicious strength. You fought that scum but you are a dignified beautiful woman.
Love always my girl xoxo Arohanui my sister and more

Jay Gates

Aww Vanessa how heartbroken I am about what happened to you, I can still see you clearly in my head walking to the train in bare feet, running around the softball pitch with a cheeky grin on your face,sneaking home at lunch when you weren't meant to ( sorry Leigh) having a laugh that would bring a smile to anyone's face ❤️ I admired you, I wanted to be you as a kid and have the free spirit you had...that hasn't changed a bit. I didnt get to tell you that I love you cause it wasn't cool when we were kids to say that to your friends, dumb aye! But I love you and I will never ever forget you or stop speaking your name, until we meet again my friend xo


Ten years have gone by and I remember Vanessas most beautiful smile and happiness like it was only yesterday that I last saw her. We will always miss Vanessa and we will never forget our precious time together as friends on this earth. Please be at peace Vanessa. From a New Brighton friend.

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