Six weeks after Corryn Rayney’s disappearance, Det-Sen. Sgt Jack Lee used a packed press conference to label her estranged husband the “prime” and “only” suspect.
That move, which came more than three years before he was charged with wilful murder, would become significant in more ways than one.
It was just hours after police raided the Rayneys’ Como home on September 20, 2007 that Det-Sen.
Sgt Jack Lee held the conference. He revealed that police believed Mrs Rayney had been killed at the property and accused her husband of refusing to co-operate with officers during their investigation.
He also named Mr Rayney as the sole person under police suspicion.
The announcement that Mr Rayney was the sole person under suspicion became the catalyst for a continuing defamation lawsuit launched by Mr Rayney against WA Police(which has been postponed until after the trial).
But it has also been flagged as a building block for his defence case as he fights the murder charge.
Along with “significant debate” about how Mrs Rayney died, defence lawyers for the accused man have indicated plans to challenge the credibility of the murder investigation — which was dubbed Operation Dargan — suggesting it was biased and focused “in one direction and one direction only”.
During a string of pre-trial hearings, Mr Rayney’s lawyers have requested police records for other “persons of interest” and documents detailing detectives’ suspicions and internal police discussions.
They have also flagged plans to test the “partial alibi” of a man who they claim was in “some sort of relationship” with Mrs Rayney and who was once listed as a person of interest.
Their requests have had a mixed hit rate, with trial judge Justice Brian Martin at one stage accusing Mr Rayney’s lawyers of “the widest possible fishing expedition” akin to asking for the “whole investigation file”.
Whether the work-laden strategy is successful will become clear at the end of the trial.