Jury told possible herpes delayed affair

Margaret Scheikowski
AAP

A former Sydney restaurateur accused of setting up his wife's murder has told a jury he was not having an affair with her friend because the married woman feared she had herpes.

Mark Caleo said he did not have sex with the friend, Janice Yap, until after his wife's death when blood tests clarified she did not have the sexually transmitted disease.

The 55-year-old was being cross-examined by prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC at his NSW Supreme Court trial on Thursday.

He has pleaded not guilty to soliciting the murder of his wife, Rita Caleo, who was stabbed 23 times in the middle of the night in August 1990 at their Double Bay townhouse.

He also denies soliciting the murder of her brother, Dr Michael Chye, who was shot in the head as he drove into his Sydney home in October 1989.

Alani Afu, 51, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Caleo.

Months before her death, Ms Caleo wrote her husband out of her will stating: "He has been unfaithful to me during our marriage on at least two occasions of which I am aware".

But Caleo testifed that while he was unfaithful with a woman he did not name, he was not having an affair with Ms Yap and had denied this to his wife after Ms Yap's husband made the claims.

He denied knowing that Mr Yap was a very successful businessman in Malaysia and Australia.

"You were not interested in now much money Janet was bringing into the relationship?" Ms Cunneen asked.

"Janet brought very little money into the relationship," he replied, saying money had not been a consideration.

Caleo said he had an "open relationship" with Rita, and had once caught her in bed with her ex-boyfriend, an incident he said he had never revealed to anyone before.

He denied unlocking the sliding doors from his wife's bedroom to a balcony on the day of her murder to enable a person to gain access later that night.

"You also gathered jewellery and put it in drawers so it could be easily collected by someone you knew would be attending later," the prosecutor suggested.

"That's an awful proposition," he replied.

Ms Cunneen suggested he had gone to the house in the afternoon to set up his wife's murder, which was to look like a robbery gone wrong.

"That is a disgusting proposition and totally untrue," Caleo said.

His wife had been claustrophobic and "liked to sleep with air".

But he agreed she was killed on a cold winter's night when he was working at his restaurant.

The trial continues.