Bernadette DonaldsonPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Peter F Williams

The plaque was erected to commemorate the memorial service which was held in 1998 in honour of missing person Bernadette Donaldson. 

Bernadette Donaldson, mother of Victoria Cross winner Mark Donaldson, was murdered in 1998 by a man, Christopher Watt who was besotted by her.  In the Glebe Coroner's Court it was told that DNA testing had matched Ms Donaldson's DNA profile with blood found on her garage floor and in the car driven by Christopher Watt.

Ms Donaldson, a widow with sons Brent and Mark, had been a well-liked member of the Dorrigo community, had had a relationship with Watt, the court heard, but had not wanted it to develop.  After she disappeared on April 30, 1998, police formed the view that she had died at the hands of Watt, known to have been stalking her. But in July 1999, a Bellingen coroner returned an open verdict, unable to decide between disappearance and death. 

Detective Senior Constable Patrick Gleeson, of the Unsolved Homicides Unit North Region, said that Watt, who lived in Bellingen, some 30 kilometres from Dorrigo and whose wife Christine had hanged herself in March 1996, had formed a relationship with Ms Donaldson.  But by 1998 life had turned sour for him. His son Jon had been rendered a paraplegic in a motor cycle accident and he had been disciplined at his work at the Banana Coast Credit Union.

Ms Donaldson had had told him to leave her alone but he refused. On one occasion she had got out of the shower to find him standing at her bathroom door. She had gone to an ANZAC Day march in 1998 and had come home to find him mowing her lawn.

She had formed a relationship with another man, Ernest Molina but found that Watt was spying on them. He had told a friend he had "invested a lot" into the relationship and she was "cheating" on him. On April 28 was seen standing outside her home, wearing dark clothes.

On April 30, Ms Donaldson arrived to fly to Coolangatta and arranged to be picked up there. But she did not arrive and telephone calls to her home brought no result. At about the same time, Watt was seen in an apparent hurry drive home, wearing dark clothes, in bare feet. Ten minutes later, with shoes and different clothes, he had driven away.

He had then gone to Brisbane and on May 2 had taken strychnine, saying in a suicide note that he was "unable to cope anymore".  Police found blood on the floor of Ms Donaldson's garage, and a print which had been made in blood by a bare foot, and formed the view that someone had tried to clean up the crime scene with a mop and bucket. Blood was also found in the rear compartment of the Suzuki hatchback that Watt had driven.

DNA technology had found a positive match between the DNA profiles of that blood and the DNA profile taken from Ms Donaldson's toothbrush.


Address:Cedar Street, Dorrigo Heritage Gardens, Dorrigo, 2453
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -30.343668
Long: 152.712827
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event STart Date:30-April-1998
Actual Event End Date:30-April-1998


Front Inscription

A memorial service was held in these gardens on the 11th July 1998

To honour Bernadette Donaldson

Widow of Greg, mother of Brent and Mark who was tragically taken from her family, her friends and the Dorrigo community on 30th April 1998

Sadly missed by all who kew her

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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