The West

Rayney trial told of phone bugging
Tim Pearson arrives at court this morning. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

The man who allegedly helped Lloyd Rayney bug his wife’s phone has told his Supreme Court murder trial Mr Rayney paid him more than $1700 to buy and install equipment to record home phone calls weeks before Corryn Rayney was killed.

He also gave evidence Mr Rayney told him the alleged phone tap was “confidential” and that, if anyone asked, to say he had been doing computer repairs for Mr Rayney.

Timothy Pearson - a police employee when he was allegedly hired by Mr Rayney in July 2007 - gave evidence of phone conversations and meetings with Mr Rayney, in the course of which he was paid first $700 and later two lots of $500 for electronic recording equipment and the installation of the equipment in the Rayneys’ Como home.

Mr Pearson pleaded guilty to and was convicted of phone tapping in 2008. Prosecutors claim Mr Rayney hired Mr Pearson to tap his wife’s phone in an attempt to monitor her plans amid an increasingly-acrimonious separation in the weeks leading up to her death.

He was released on a $2500 good behaviour bond.

"Lloyd wanted to record telephone calls," Mr Pearson told the court today.

Mr Pearson said the first payment of $700 was used to buy a scanner and a digital recorder that could be used to tap a portable home phone.

"That’s what I’d been given the money to do," he said.

"The objective was to record telephone calls."

Asked who had given him that "objective" Mr Pearson said "Lloyd".

At a subsequent meeting Mr Pearson tested the equipment and recommended an alternative phone tapping device, known as the CRU-2 . He said he told Mr Rayney the device would need to be "physically hardwired" and would be a "better choice" for his requirements.

Mr Pearson bought the CRU-2 device for $219 from a company called National Communications, the court heard.

He said Mr Rayney subsequently gave him "the go ahead to install the product" at his Como home and gave him access to the roof space so he could install the device.

Mr Rayney and his daughters were at home at the time, he said.

"I plugged the unit in and installed it," Mr Pearson said. He said the device was later tested on a portable handset and found to be working.

After removing the device at Mr Rayney’s request "days or weeks later" Mr Pearson gave evidence he listened to several of the recorded calls, which included calls between "two females", one of whom had a "partial Indian accent".

He could not recall the content of the conversations, beyond one which involving "meeting up in Ocean Reef or something".

The recordings were copied onto a compact disc, which he gave back to Mr Rayney.

Mr Pearson also gave details of other payments received from Mr Rayney, some of which he said related to work he did on Mr Rayney’s computer.

Earlier the court heard Mr Pearson was put in contact with Mr Rayney by one-time Perth prosecutor Clare O’Brien and her brother Nathan.

Following an initial phone call Mr Pearson said he spoke to Mr Rayney for a second time on or about July 15, 2007 and Mr Rayney visited his house a few days later to discuss "the product or service that would be available".

"We were discussing call recording products," Mr Pearson said. "That's what I'd been prompted to by Nathan to be discussing... with Lloyd."

“Lloyd entered the house and I directed him to the workshop … where there was all different kinds of video surveillance equipment (and) digital video recorders.

"I had some interest in doing call recording and he had given me some amount of money to source products of that nature."

Inside the roof cavity of the Rayneys' home in which phone bugging equipment was allegedly installed.

Mr Pearson gave evidence he had not been involved in phone tap operations before meeting Mr Rayney.

At the time, in addition to operating his own business he was working on a WA police IT project.

He said Ms O’Brien and her brother introduced him to Mr Rayney "because I am involved in electronic surveillance and they were talking about recording and I was interesting in doing something like that so they introduced me to Lloyd".

Mr Pearson pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrates Court on February 14, 2008 to intercepting information passed over telecommunications systems. He was convicted and released, having agreed to cooperate with police.

Prosecutor John Agius claimed in his opening address that conversations recorded by Mr Rayney included some in which Mrs Rayney told friends she knew her husband had “slept around” behind her back for years and accepted “shady deals from clients”, including Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.

Mr Pearson’s evidence is significant to the State’s case partly because they claim it meant Mr Rayney was aware that his wife was looking into his finances and partly because they claim his decision to remove the device two days before Mrs Rayney was killed suggests he may have planned her murder.

The prosecution has also alleged the fact Mr Rayney told Mr Pearson he should lie about the phone tapping if anyone asked showed a “consciousness of guilt”.

Two phone calls between Mr Rayney and Mr Pearson made on September 20, 2007 after Mr Pearson co-operated with police investigating the alleged tapping of Mrs Rayney’s phone were played to the court previously but the audio was difficult to hear.

Mr Agius claimed in his opening address that Mr Rayney said words to the effect of: “I can’t really talk to you, Tim. Remember what I said about the computer.”

The court has previously heard from Ms O’Brien, who told the trial she put Mr Rayney in touch with Mr Pearson — at the time a friend of her brother’s — when he asked if she could recommended someone who knew something about “home security or home surveillance systems”.

She told the court she did not believe Mr Rayney would do anything unlawful but said he was concerned about what his wife was up to and suspicious she may be setting up an “email trail” of false but potentially-damaging allegations about him ahead of divorce proceedings.

The West Australian

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