A Queensland man has been found guilty of killing his estranged wife but the jury stopped short of finding he murdered her amid a bitter row over custody of their two children.
John William Chardon, 72, was tried in Brisbane Supreme Court for three weeks after pleading not guilty to murdering Novy Chardon, 34.
The mother-of-two disappeared from the couple's plush Upper Coomera mansion on the night of February 6, 2013. Her body has never been found.
Chardon was cleared of murder by a jury on Monday, but they found him guilty of manslaughter.
The trial had heard a raft of allegations including that he had attempted to hire a Filipino hitman.
The jury was also told he had numerous affairs and asked his daughter to hide a mysterious box said to contain gun parts and handcuffs. He denied it all.
Husband’s version of events mocked in court
During the trial prosecutor Mark Green mocked Chardon's version of the events surrounding his wife's disappearance, calling them "Johnny's special stories".
"He thinks that he can get away with murder because he did such a good job at disposing of Novy's body," he told the jury during his closing remarks.
He accused Chardon of murdering his wife after receiving the letter about custody of the couple's two children. But the jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Ms Chardon had been deeply unhappy during the last years of her marriage and was preparing for life outside her husband's "dark shadow", the court heard.
The Indonesian-born beautician disappeared at the end of the couple's year-long legal separation during which Chardon stayed in the family's home to help with the children.
Missing mum prepared to leave husband
The court heard Chardon received the divorce letter at 3pm and was waiting in the garage when Ms Chardon returned home later that night from dinner with a friend.
From the witness box, Chardon said his wife had ignored him when he confronted her. He said she told him she was leaving later that night so he went to bed.
Mr Green had told the jury there was no direct evidence about how the alleged murder occurred, but the court heard Chardon hired a steam cleaner at Woolworths the following morning and cleaned his wife's bedroom carpet.
He then boasted about his cleaning efforts and sexual prowess before propositioning Ms Chardon's best friend, Frederika Wong, when she came looking for her friend after she missed their coffee date.
Ms Wong noticed the wet carpet – and when police began investigating it was urine stains found deep in the carpet's pile, that revealed something had happened in the bedroom.
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