A smiling colleague, a devoted mother, and compassionate friend: in the years since Corryn Rayney’s death in 2007 there has been no shortage of these descriptions of the 44-year-old.
But perhaps the best accounts were found in the flood of tributes after her death.
Day after day, The West Australian’s death notices built a picture of a deeply spiritual woman who was admired as much for her kind nature as for the respect she held in Perth’s legal fraternity.
Law firms, court colleagues, best friends, her church group and even the local grocer published tributes to the Como mother of two.
From WA’s judiciary to her friends at a Bentley boot-scooting class, people celebrated her character and expressed disbelief in her loss.
That disbelief is still palpable almost five years on, with Mrs Rayney still described as an “unlikely” victim whose death remains a mystery.
Born in Africa to Indian parents in 1963, Corryn Veronica Ann Da Silva grew up in Uganda during the brutal reign of Idi Amin before her family moved to Australia in 1973 as refugees.
She would go on to excel at Rossmoyne Senior High School and study law at the University of WA where she also became involved in the Christian Youth movement.
She was an articled clerk with the Australian Government Solicitor’s office when she met her future husband, Lloyd Rayney. He was a junior lawyer at the time.
Together they built a seemingly perfect life with respected senior legal roles, healthy pay-packets, a beautiful renovated home in the riverside suburb of Como, and two beautiful daughters.
At the time of her death, Mrs Rayney earned more than $200,000 a year as a Supreme Court registrar — a role similar to a judge.
Her name hit the front page of The West Australian when she presided over bankruptcy proceedings against a real estate agent who allegedly ripped off more than $500,000 from clients.
Mr Rayney rose through the ranks, becoming a senior prosecutor and then a respected Perth barrister dealing with high-profile criminal and civil cases.
Known for her smiling disposition, Mrs Rayney may have, on the surface, appeared to have had a rosy existence.
But behind closed doors fractures were deepening in the marriage, with Mrs Rayney’s husband at one point spending 18 months on a work stint in the Caribbean while she stayed in Perth with their children.
By mid-2007, the pair had become estranged despite still sharing the same home with their children.
Whether the rift between the married couple played a part in her murder will now be explored at trial.
Suggestions of infidelity, gambling and property disputes are expected to surface as Mr Rayney fights allegations of murder.
A strong group of friends and colleagues – some whom also shared friendships with Mrs Rayney — have remained by Mr Rayney’s side, adamant that his wife’s killer remains at large.
Among his supporters are the couple’s daughters who were aged just 10 and 13 when they lost their mother.
There will be no easy path to justice for those close to Mrs Rayney.
The pursuit of truth will come at an emotional cost, as her life and the life of her husband, are dissected in open court.For comfort, some of them may turn to the cheerful memories expressed all those years ago in the tribute pages.
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