Police investigating Corryn Rayney’s death deliberately misled her husband in an effort to obtain information from him, his wilful murder trial heard today.
In another development Mr Rayney’s defence team said they would not argue that a convicted sex offender and a man with a possible murder conviction who lived near the Rayneys should be regarded as suspects in Mrs Rayney’s alleged murder, nor criticise the nature of the police investigation into the two men.
Justice Brian Martin today ruled that recorded phone conversations between Detective Sergeant Mark McKenzie and Mr Rayney would not be admissible as evidence in Mr Rayney’s trial, in part because of the conduct of Mr McKenzie.
In giving his reasons for not allowing the tapes, which were played to the court, Justice Martin said he was not satisfied that the desirability of admitting the calls as evidence outweighed the undesirability of admitting the evidence.
He also questioned the conduct of Det Sgt McKenzie, saying he deliberately misrepresented his role in the investigation when talking to Mr Rayney in the hope of obtaining information.
Det Sgt Mark McKenzie was both the family liaison officer to the Rayneys and the second-in-charge in the police investigation into Mrs Rayney’s death. However, at the time of the relevant calls, Mr Rayney had not been informed either that he was a suspect in his wife’s death or that Det Sgt McKenzie was anything other than the family liaison officer.
"It is one thing to remain silent it is another to deliberately make false statements to a suspect with the hope of misleading the suspect as to the true situation," Justice Martin said.
The defence argued that the recordings, which have been played to the court, were not admissible because they were not in line with proper police procedure.
Prosecutor John Agius said the content of the recordings was relevant to the prosecution case on several fronts, including Mr Rayney’s comment in one call, with respect to Mrs Rayney’s death, that he “always thought it was foul play”.
Mr Agius said that statement was at odds with Mr Rayney’s comments when he reported his wife missing and suggested the Perth barrister was “now running a different tack” because Mrs Rayney’s body had been found.
Similarly, Mr Agius suggested Mr Rayney was “laying a false trail” when he related a story to Det Sgt McKenzie about his wife staying out until 3am one night with a friend and meeting “some Indian blokes at a nightclub”.
Mr Agius said the story had been denied by Mrs Rayney’s friend and was “designed to paint the deceased as some gadabout”.
The prosecution also recalled Detective Sergeant Ian Moore as a witness to give evidence about video footage of the preliminary examination of Mrs Rayney's body that was passed on to forensic pathologist Gerard Cadden, who performed both the preliminary examination and a subsequent post-mortem.
Dr Cadden has previously given evidence that footage initially provided to him by police did not show him examining Mrs Rayney's hair, although he subsequently saw images proving that he did. He said he found it difficult to believe he did not recover liquidambar seed pods caught in her hair until the following day.
The defence has questioned how the seed pods, which the prosecution claims link Mrs Rayney's death to her home, were recovered from Mrs Rayney's hair.
Mr Moore testified today that when he passed the footage on to Dr Cadden he believed it "was the entirety of the preliminary post-mortem footage".
Earlier defence lawyer David Edwardson said the defence would not pursue the idea that either Ivin Eades or Allan Lacco, both of whom were named in court yesterday, were potential suspects in Mrs Rayney’s death.
Justice Martin had asked the defence to spell out whether the two men were being put forward as “alternative candidates”, after revelations that came out in the Supreme Court trial yesterday.
The court was told that police notes suggested Mr Eades, whose DNA was found on a cigarette butt outside the Rayneys’ house shortly after Mrs Rayney’s death, may have had a prior murder conviction.
It also was told Mr Eades was living with Mr Lacco - an "extremely well known" sex offender - in the same suburb as the Rayneys’.
The trial had previously heard that a car driven by someone with the last name Eades was stopped by police near the Rayneys’ Como home on the night Mrs Rayney disappeared.
Prosecutors argued that if the defence was suggesting Mr Eades or Mr Lacco may have killed Mrs Rayney they would need extra time to organise evidence and witnesses to show police investigated both men at the time.
Mr Edwardson said the defence was not proposing that “either of these people was responsible for the death of Corryn Rayney” or that such a scenario was “even a possibility”.
Rather, he argued, the defence’s position was that the police investigation had focused on Mr Rayney from a very early stage.
“This is not about the defence trying to prove that a particular identifiable individual might have been responsible for her demise,” Mr Edwardson said.
“There are all sorts of possibilities that arise.”
Mr Edwardson indicated the defence did not intend to criticise the nature or extent of the police investigation into Mr Eades or Mr Lacco.
Mr Rayney is fighting an allegation he wilfully murdered his estranged wife after she returned home from a dance class on the night of August 7, 2007.
A key plank of the defence’s argument is that the police investigation into Mrs Rayney’s disappearance was biased and focused on Mr Rayney to the exclusion of other suspects.
The prosecution’s case, meanwhile, hangs on their assertion Mrs Rayney returned home after bootscooting class and was killed there.
A Hong Kong-based biomechanics expert appeared as a witness this afternoon to give evidence about the boots Mrs Rayney was wearing when she died.
Angus Burnett, an associate professor in biomechanics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the court he had experience looking at the relationship between the way a person’s body moves and wear patterns on their shoes.
Dr Burnett wrote in a report that he found it "unlikely the scuff or gouge marks on the boots" Mrs Rayney was wearing when she died "were caused by any walking or running gait".
The prosecution alleges Mrs Rayney’s boots scraped against the bricks outside her home when Mr Rayney dragged her body into the backseat of the car. Soil, paint and brick particles found in Mrs Rayney’s boots have shown similarities to samples from the Rayneys’ home.