Dinner guest testifies at Rayney trial
Elizabeth Needham leaves court after giving evidence at the trial today. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Update: 3.40pm Lloyd Rayney seemed “extremely anxious” to learn his wife had gone missing, barrister Philip Urquhart told his WA Supreme Court murder trial today.

Appearing as a witness today Mr Urquhart described Mr Rayney’s demeanour the morning after Mrs Rayney’s death, when they appeared at a CCC hearing together.

He said Mr Rayney had appeared as normal early in the day, mentioning that he was “being punished” for something that had happened the night before by having to drive his children to school.

Later, Mr Urquhart said, Mr Rayney “leaned across to me and said ‘something very urgent has come up, I have to leave immediately’,” he said, adding Mr Rayney seemed “extremely anxious”.

Earlier the Perth barrister who sat next to Lloyd Rayney at a work dinner shortly before his wife’s death said Mr Rayney spoke affectionately about his family at a work dinner.

The dinner is relevant because a place card believed to be from that night and bearing Mr Rayney’s name was later found near his wife Corryn’s Kings Park grave.

Elizabeth Needham, of Francis Burt Chambers, used Mr Rayney’s place card when, along with Mr Rayney and others, she took part in a game of celebrity heads at the dinner.

Ms Needham said she put the card back on the table when the game was over and that was the last time she saw it.

“There were still place cards on the table when I got up and left,” she told the court.

“The last time I saw the card and know that that was this particular card was after I put it on the table. I didn’t see anybody take it from the table, it was in front of me with a group of other cards.”

The card was later found in Kings Park and forms part of the prosecution’s case against Mr Rayney. They allege he likely dropped it when burying his wife after murdering her on the night of August 7, 2007.

The prosecution claims Mr Rayney later lied about having taken his wife’s car to the work dinner a little over a week before her death as a way to explain the presence of the card.

However, in his opening address prosecutor John Agius said the prosecution would call two witnesses from the dinner to give evidence that Mr Rayney was not driving his wife’s car on the night.

Defence lawyer David Edwardson cross-examined Mrs Needham.

Asked if Mr Rayney had spoken “affectionately” about his family, Mrs Needham said “Oh yes, most definitely.” Asked if that included his wife Mrs Needham said “yes.”

The prosecution also called a Subiaco resident who reported hearing a car struggling on Thomas Street on the night Mrs Rayney was killed.

Kaylene Durrant said she woke to hear the car, which she estimated was travelling “at least twice as slow as the other cars”.

“It was struggling to gain power, it was quite noisy,” she said.

Ms Durrant said she knew she heard the car at about 2.25am or 2.26am because she looked at her clock.

She also described how the next day she found oil on a nearby road. An oil trial leading from Mrs Rayney's car, which was abandoned in Subiaco, led police to her bush grave.

The court also heard from police officers who attended the scene on August 11, 2007 in Kings Park, where members of the public had discovered the place card.

They were quizzed about the location of the card, which was found close to two plastic cigarette lighters.

The trial continues.


The West Australian

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