Update: Lloyd Rayney insisted his eldest daughter come home to bed instead of staying at a friend's house on the night he is alleged to have killed his wife Corryn, Caitlyn Rayney told his Supreme Court murder trial today.
Caitlyn told the court her father only allowed her to attend a Gwen Stefani concert on the night of August 7, 2007 on the condition that she sleep at home and on the understanding the concert would finish at about 9.30pm – more than an hour earlier than it actually ended and at about the same time Mrs Rayney was expected home from her bootscooting class.
Testifying for the first time Caitlyn and her younger sister Sarah gave evidence about their father's demeanour on night their mother disappeared and the following morning when they initially believed she had simply left for work without telling them.
Caitlyn said when she was dropped off that night her father greeted them dressed in his pyjamas and appeared as usual, inviting her friend’s mother into the house for a drink, which she refused. He helped her with her homework before she went to bed, telling her “mum and I have some things to talk about when she gets home”.
The Rayneys’ youngest daughter Sarah was already asleep in bed. She told the court she was in bed by about 9pm and asleep by 9.30pm that night and did not wake up until the next morning.
The prosecution alleges Mr Rayney killed Mrs Rayney while Caitlyn was at the Gwen Stefani concert and while Sarah, slept upstairs. They claim Mr Rayney phoned his sister, Raelene, who was also attending the concert, to learn what time it would finish and how much time he had to conceal his wife’s body.
Caitlyn said she was only invited to the concert the day before it was on.
The question of Mr Rayney’s lack of physical strength also returned to the spotlight – a recurring theme in the trial, given the State’s allegations he dragged his wife’s body first into the backseat of her car and later through the bush at Kings Park to her grave.
Caitlyn told the court her father was “very unfit” and had struggled at times to pick her and sister Sarah up when they were younger.
“The most that he could do was change a light bulb,” she said.
“He’s certainly not someone that has any interest in being a big macho sort of guy … he is very, very unfit.”
Justice Brian Martin rejected an application by prosecutors to have Caitlyn declared a hostile witness over alleged inconsistencies between what she told a friend after her mother went missing and what she told the court.
Prosecutor John Agius argued Caitlyn was “deliberately playing down her reaction to the fact her mother wasn’t there” on August 8, 2007 – the morning after she disappeared. In particular he queried her evidence that no mention was made of calling the police.
Justice Martin denied the application, saying Caitlyn's oral evidence was consistent with her statement to the police.
"In all circumstances I have decided it is not appropriate to permit the State to cross-examine this witness on that single aspect as to whether there was mention of the police on 8 August, 2007," he said.
Both Caitlyn and Sarah painted a picture of the morning of August 8 , saying it was mostly normal apart from their mother’s absence.
“My sister … asked me if I knew where my mother was and I replied she might have gone into work early,” Sarah said. “We just assumed that was what had happened.”
Caitlyn said she went into her mother’s bedroom that morning and saw a coat on her mother’s bed. She said it was a black overcoat that she had never known her mother to wear to her bootscooting class.
The question of whether Mrs Rayney was wearing a coat on the night she disappeared has come up previously in the trial. The State has suggested the presence of the coat suggested Mrs Rayney came home on the night of August 7.Bootscooters who danced with Mrs Rayney on the night of August 7, 2007 gave conflicting evidence about whether she was wearing a coat that night.