Lloyd Rayney murdered his estranged wife Corryn at home as their youngest daughter slept following a bitter marriage breakdown and threats to damage his legal career, prosecutors said as they revealed their case against the Perth barrister yesterday.
The stunning claim came on the first day of proceedings in the long-awaited murder trial.
Prosecutor John Agius used his opening address to detail in front of a packed courtroom how the alleged murder came against a backdrop of a disintegrating marriage that saw Mrs Rayney threaten to harm her husband's reputation and ruin his bid to become a Queen's Counsel.
Mr Rayney, 50, has maintained he had no involvement in the death of his wife, who went missing after a bootscooting class on August 7, 2007. Her body was found eight days later buried in Kings Park.
Yesterday, the couple's two teenage daughters, Caitlyn and Sarah - who were aged 13 and 10 when their mother was killed - smiled in support as their father repeated his plea of not guilty to wilful murder.
But the teenagers had to leave the court because they will be witnesses in the trial. The court was told that Mrs Rayney had told a friend on August 7, 2007 that she had a planned meeting with Mr Rayney at home after her dance class to discuss their family affairs.
According to the State's case, it was at home, after she returned about 9.45pm, that Mrs Rayney was murdered.
Mr Agius alleged that over the next crucial hour, Mr Rayney murdered his wife as the couple's youngest child lay in bed.
"The accused murdered his wife whilst their youngest daughter was asleep," Mr Agius said.
The prosecutor said Mr Rayney had then moved his wife's car and hid her body in a bid to conceal the crime from his eldest child who was due home about 10.45pm from a concert.
He had also made two phone calls in a bid to check what time the other daughter would likely arrive home, Mr Agius said.
It was in the early hours of the next morning, after his second daughter had returned and gone to bed, that Mr Rayney had drove his wife's car with her body on the back seat to Kings Park and buried her in a clearing, Mr Agius said.
Mr Agius claimed that as Mr Rayney tried to reverse the car in Kings Park, he had damaged the transmission. The failing vehicle was eventually dumped in Subiaco's Kershaw Street where an oil leak ultimately led police back to the grave site.
The trial heard that Mrs Rayney's body had been buried head-first, with her arms crossed, and that she had suffered a significant head injury and wounds consistent with neck compression.
But while evidence suggested the killer's plans may have gone awry with the vehicle, the person would have been able to walk the 7.7-8km back to Como in an hour and a half, Mr Agius said.
The prosecutor alleged that the next morning Mr Rayney had met his daughters' fears about their mother's whereabouts with claims that she may have returned home and left early for work - a claim the State alleges he then supported with a "self-serving" email and phone call to her office before later contacting police.
Mr Agius claimed Mr Rayney had given police "inconsistent" versions of whether his wife had come home or what happened to her.
The daughters were not in the court when Mr Agius detailed their parents' failing marriage and alleged that things had come to violent end on the night Mr Rayney was meant to alleviate his wife's suspicions that he was hiding money from her.
"She was concerned that he had been hiding income from her … and that he had returned to gambling," Mr Agius said, adding that the 44-year-old had also suspected her husband of infidelity. "There was barely a matter over which they did not take opposing views."
The prosecutor said Mrs Rayney believed her husband was concealing his financial details in the bitter split and that she had threatened to subpoena his clients to produce records of his billings and fees - a move that could have damaged and embarrassed Mr Rayney professionally.
The court was told Mr Rayney's clients had included Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting, with the company having paid him more than $750,000 since 2005.
Mr Agius said the acrimonious relationship between the Rayneys, who lived under the same Como roof but slept in separate rooms, had also prompted Mrs Rayney to tell a friend she would do "all she could" to ensure her husband did not succeed in his bid to become a Queen's Counsel.
The call was among home phone calls that were allegedly being intercepted by her husband, the prosecutor claimed.Mr Rayney's defence team said they elected not to give an opening address.
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