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Father tells of Rayney marriage breakdown
Father tells of Rayney marriage breakdown

Lloyd Rayney came to his father-in-law for advice on how to save his marriage just months before he allegedly murdered his wife Corryn, her father testified yesterday.

Ernest Da Silva yesterday became the first witness to take the stand in Mr Rayney's wilful murder trial in which the barrister is fighting allegations he killed his wife in August 2007 and buried her in Kings Park as their two daughters slept in their Como home.

Mr Da Silva paused to hold back tears as he described to a Supreme Court judge how he advised his son-in-law in January 2007 to "do whatever it takes" to keep living with Mrs Rayney and his "two beautiful girls".

"He (Mr Rayney) rang me to say that he was having problems at the home . . . marital problems," Mr Da Silva said.

"Corryn didn't love him and he wanted my advice as to what to do.

"I said you have got two beautiful girls, they are young . . . you should do whatever it takes to make sure you continue living there and bringing up those girls."

But by August 3 that year - four days before the alleged murder - Mr Da Silva's conversations with his daughter painted a picture of an unsalvageable marriage, with the 44-year-old telling him she had received a nasty and threatening letter from Mr Rayney's lawyer as the pair headed for a split.

The grandfather of four described how his last conversation with his daughter had been on August 6, the day before she died.

During the call, Mrs Rayney confirmed plans for her and her daughters to join a family holiday in October to Mauritius - without Mr Rayney - and told her father that her husband was going to make an "appointment" with her the next day "to speak about a new proposal for the girls".

It was two days later, Mr Da Silva said, on August 8, that Mr Rayney called him and said he could not find his wife and had gone to her office, where she worked as a Supreme Court registrar, to check her diary for clues to her whereabouts.

"I asked him, 'Did Corryn come home last night', and he (Mr Rayney) said, 'Do you know that I sleep in the back room now'," Mr Da Silva said.

"I didn't get a definitive answer."

That afternoon, he had accompanied his son-in-law to the Kensington police station to report his daughter missing, he said.

Mr Da Silva claimed his son-in-law remained silent and made "no eye contact" when he joined him at the station.

He said that after a police interview, Mr Rayney had said "somebody made her do it".

"He was shedding a few tears but the tears dried up pretty fast," Mr Da Silva told the judge-alone trial.

Mr Da Silva rejected suggestions from Mr Rayney's defence lawyer, David Edwardson, that he had been mistaken about the words allegedly uttered by the accused man after the police interview.

In his evidence yesterday, Mr Da Silva chronicled how his daughter's 17-year marriage to Mr Rayney had appeared "fairly normal" but had ended up with constant arguments "about everything" including how to raise their daughters, the food they ate and who took the children to school.

Mr Da Silva also said he had become alarmed with his son-in-law's gambling and warned his daughter to be careful about her husband's expenditure on the habit.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Rayney killed his wife after she pursued details of his finances and threatened to expose his alleged infidelity and gambling, which saw him spend $46,800 at Centrebet between April 2006 and July 2007.

Mr Da Silva recalled the first time he saw his son-in-law betting and losing on horse racing at a TAB in the mid-1990s and how Mr Rayney had told him: "I just back the long odds."

Mr Da Silva's evidence about his daughter's life, marriage and last days was yesterday followed by testimony from Kings Park staff about a broken bollard and trail of car oil found the morning after Mrs Rayney's alleged murder which led to the discovery of her body in a bush grave.

The two witnesses said a track near the burial site - which was used by joggers - bore tyre marks that appeared to be from a single non-four-wheel-drive vehicle.