The destructive power of grief and blame was laid bare in the Supreme Court yesterday as proceedings revealed a deep fracture in the family of Corryn Rayney after her death.
Division in the family became apparent as Mrs Rayney's sister and brother-in-law, Sharon and Rohan Coutinho, testified for the prosecution.
Mr Rayney has maintained his innocence in his wife's death throughout the five years since her alleged murder in August 2007.
He has been supported at court by his two daughters, who were aged just 10 and 13 when their mother died.
Yesterday, the Coutinhos painted a picture of a close-knit family that had enjoyed a tradition of Sunday lunches cooked by Mrs Rayney's father Ernest Da Silva and attended by both his two daughters and their husbands and children.
By mid-2007, the Rayneys' marriage had begun to rupture with tensions not only between Mr Rayney and his wife but also between him and his in-laws, the Coutinhos said.
Mrs Coutinho, who was close to her sister, said her sibling confided in her about her marriage problems, concerns about her husband's gambling, his alleged infidelities and her plans to end their marriage.
Mrs Coutinho said the relationship between herself and Mr Rayney by August 2007 had also become "just civil".
Despite the poor rapport, the pair had joined forces in the days after Mrs Rayney's disappearance to face a media conference appealing for information from the public.
Mrs Rayney's body was found in Kings Park eight days after she disappeared.
The relationship between Mrs Coutinho and Mr Rayney worsened as she and her husband maintained communication with police investigating the case.
There were suggestions Mr Rayney was unhappy with police handling of the case, the court was told, and he felt he was not kept "in the loop".
The court was told the Rayneys' elder daughter had developed a mistrust of police and even had concerns as to whether she could talk to her school counsellor confidentially.
Mrs Coutinho testified her contact with the Rayney daughters became less and less, claiming Mr Rayney had responded to her bid to take the girls out for dinner in October 2007 by saying: "No, it's different now."
Mr Rayney's lawyer suggested yesterday there was nothing "sinister" in the break in contact, raising questions about how there had been conflict between Mrs Coutinho and the girls regarding funeral arrangements.Mrs Coutinho said Mr Da Silva had arranged the wording on Mrs Rayney's memorial plaque without input from her daughters or Mr Rayney after the accused asked him to handle the task.
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