View Comments
Rayney trial continues on anniversary

UPDATE, 12:40pm Lloyd Rayney "hated" his wife and was concerned about a series of allegations she had made shortly before her death, including claims he was sleeping in their daughters' beds at night, a former colleague of Mr Rayney's and aide-de-camp to two WA governors has told his Supreme Court murder trial.

The court was also told that Mr Rayney, who is alleged to have tapped his wife's phone shortly before her death, asked his then colleague about "surveillance" options, saying "cost wouldn't be an issue'.

Clare O'Brien, a former Perth-based lawyer who worked with Mr Rayney at the Director of Public Prosecutions appeared as a witness via videolink this morning.

Today is the fifth anniversary of Corryn Rayney's death.

Ms O'Brien gave evidence about a conversation with Mr Rayney at a coffee shop, in which he said he "hated" his wife.

"I asked him how the situation was at home and if he thought the marriage could be salvaged and Lloyd said that he'd been making a great deal of effort over a long period of time, which I think also included marriage counselling, but that his efforts weren't working and it looked like it was over," she said.

"He said that he hated Corryn... He just said the words, there wasn't any particular emotion."

Ms O'Brien gave evidence Mr Rayney said he wanted to "know what was going on in relation to Corryn's plans". She said Mr Rayney asked her if she knew anyone that knew anything about "home security or home surveillance systems".

She said she recommended Mr Rayney speak to a friend of her brother's, who had been involved in installing cameras in nightclubs. Ms O'Brien said she subsequently asked her brother to make contact with his friend, Tim Pearson, which he did.

Under cross-examination Ms O'Brien said police threatened to charge her, costing her both her job and reputation if she did not make a statement to police. She said she was not told what she would be charged with but that the charges would ultimately be dropped.

Ms O'Brien said police told her that "by the time we eventually drop the charge, because ie: there is no evidence, it's too late because the damage is done," she said. She said she was told her brother could also be charged. "I was absolutely starting to get extremely scared," she said.

However, Ms O'Brien said nothing police said to her led her to give evidence that was untrue and she would ultimately have made a statement in any case.

Ms O'Brien recalled a separate phone conversation she had with Mr Rayney in late June or early July 2007, in which he told her Mrs Rayney was making false accusations via email. The allegations include claims he was sleeping in his daughters' beds at night, which he said he was not.

Ms O'Brien said Mr Rayney said Mrs Rayney's claim was ridiculous. Asked for her interpretation of the emails, Ms O'Brien said she suggested Mrs Rayney may be "setting up an email trail" ahead of divorce proceedings.

"He wanted to let a few people know that he was having some difficulties with Corryn in his marriage," Ms O'Brien said.

"He said that Corryn had been sending emails to his work and she was writing things that weren't true in the sense that Lloyd was sleeping in the girls' beds at night and he asked me what did I make of that by her doing that... I said that it looked as though she was setting up an email trail indicating that things had occurred when they hadn't in order to be able to apply pressure to Lloyd in relation to the divorce proceedings."

Ms O'Brien and Mr Rayney discussed the implications of Mrs Rayney's allegations on his reputation and his aspiration "to be called to the bench", joking he wanted to be "the first black judge in WA". Ms O'Brien said she suggested Mr Rayney move out of the couple's home but he said Mrs Rayney should move out instead.

Ms O'Brien said she told Mr Rayney that if his wife's allegations "got out" they could negatively affect his career prospects.

Later, in August 2007, when Mrs Rayney was missing but before her body had been found Ms O'Brien said she visited Mr Rayney at his home.

"We all sat down and I remember that... I'd never seen Lloyd look so completely shattered," she said. "He was on the point of tears and he looked at me and asked me how was he going to be able to tell the girls that their mother was dead. It was one of the saddest moments that I could recall, watching someone even contemplating having that conversation with his children... it was a moment."

Ms O'Brien said that in an effort to raise Mr Rayney's spirits she told him he should not assume his wife was dead and suggested he check if his wife's passport or any money was missing. "It was like he's jumped to the worst case scenario and I said, 'well, it might not be the case that she's dead, she might be missing'," she said.

Ms O'Brien also gave evidence about the nature of her friendship with Mr Rayney after they both left the DPP. At times she said she recommended Mr Rayney to people seeking representation, including a police officer who appeared at the Corruption and Crime Commission.

"I recommended... clients to use Lloyd for their matters," she said.

Ms O'Brien also gave evidence about a lunch she attended at the Rayneys' Como home in 2007 with her then-fiancee. Asked about the relationship she observed between Mr and Mrs Rayney she said they were "very welcoming".

"The atmosphere was very welcoming, it was very warm and cordial," she said.

"It was obvious that they regularly entertained because they worked in tandem... it was very much a team effort and we had a very nice time."

Ms O'Brien was a lawyer at the Legal Aid office of WA from 2004 to late 2007 and before that worked at the DPP with Mr Rayney.

Ms O'Brien now lives in Queensland. The case has been adjourned until tomorrow.