Update: Corryn Rayney began to be rude and derogatory towards her husband in public about a year before she was killed, the Perth barrister’s sister has told his wilful murder trial.
Raelene Johnston also painted a picture of Lloyd Rayney as a mild-mannered but sensitive man who rarely raised his voice or showed his emotions and was resigned to the fact his marriage was ending by the time his wife disappeared.
The Supreme Court heard Ms Johnston was aware of rumours Mr Rayney had an affair years before Mrs Rayney died and had asked her brother about it. She testified she became aware of marital difficulties in 2006.
“It was just a gradual thing … I noticed that Corryn became sort of disparaging about Lloyd in front of me,” she said.
“She was rude. He would be the peacemaker, he wouldn’t argue back.”
Ms Johnston said her brother was not an angry or violent man or the kind of person who would raise his voice. She said by July 2007 he was "sad" but "resigned" about the breakdown of his marriage and had been looking for a house he could move into that would allow him to stay close to the family home in Como.
She said her brother's primary concern was about what effect the marriage breakdown would have on their two daughters.
"My parents were always there for us together and he was sad that they were going to be a family that was separated," she said.
Ms Johnston gave evidence about Mr Rayney’s long-term back problem, saying he had expressed concern about his ability to pick up her young children.
Mr Rayney’s alleged back problem, which has been raised several times by his defence team, is potentially relevant because the prosecution claims he dragged his wife’s body first into her car and later into her King’s Park grave.
Mr Rayney has pleaded not guilty to wilful murder.
Mr Rayney’s behaviour in the weeks and months following his wife’s death has been under the microscope.
Ms Johnston told the court Mr Rayney was upset at the police station when they went to report Mrs Rayney missing, saying “what am I going to tell the children?” When police told him a week later Mrs Rayney’s body had been found he cried.
“Lloyd’s not one to show emotion, I’ve never seen him like that before,” she said.
“He cried for a long time. He said something like 'how could someone do that, treat her like a dog like that?'”
Ms Johnston said her brother only appeared “detached” to people who did not know him well.
“He’s a sensitive person but he’s very poker faced and so I think he can come across as being snobbish or distant or whatever … he comes across as being very composed and he doesn’t show his emotion. It takes a lot for him to show it.”
Earlier nearly 300 emails between Mrs Rayney and her friends and family were tendered as evidence in the trial.
The emails span from 2003, when Mr Rayney was working away from home in Bermuda, to mid-2007.
Defence lawyer David Edwardson questioned the relevance of some of the 289 emails, saying that “at best (they) may provide some background and colour” to the nature of the Rayneys’ marriage.
He said it was “common ground” between the prosecution and the defence that the Rayneys’ marriage had broken down by August 7, 2007 when Mrs Rayney was killed.
Justice Brian Martin excluded some of the emails from the tendered evidence but allowed the bulk of them as indicative of Mrs Rayney’s “state of mind”.
“It’s that total picture that builds up,” he said.
For example, he said, some correspondence suggested Mrs Rayney was not happy in the marriage as far back as 2003, which has been testified to by other witnesses.
Other emails are intended to support the State’s case that Mrs Rayney would not have voluntarily failed to attend a meeting with her husband planned for the night she was killed.
Mr and Mrs Rayney had agreed to meet to discuss financial information but the defence claims Mrs Rayney did not return home from her bootscooting class in time to attend the meeting and Mr Rayney went to bed after waiting up for his wife until about 11.30pm.