Friend s love for Corryn won t die
Friend's love for Corryn won't die

When the long-awaited Rayney trial verdict is handed down on Thursday, it will pass judgment on one of the biggest criminal cases in WA history.

Supreme Court justice Brian Martin, who has heard the case against barrister Lloyd Rayney without a jury, must choose from three possible verdicts: guilty of wilful murder, guilty of manslaughter or acquittal on all charges.

The prosecution's case is that Mr Rayney planned and carried out the murder of his estranged wife, Corryn, on August 7, 2007, intending to cause her death and conceal the crime of wilful murder.

Mr Rayney has consistently insisted he is innocent. The defence case is that Mr Rayney should be acquitted because he had nothing to do with his wife's death and that a tunnel-visioned police team constructed a false and misleading circumstantial brief against him.

The third possibility, which has not been advanced by either side, is that Justice Martin could declare Mr Rayney guilty of manslaughter, which finds the defendant responsible for the death but does not require proof of intent or premeditation.

The judge must not convict Mr Rayney on either charge unless he is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt. Unlike a jury, Justice Martin is required to deliver written reasons for his decision, which will be pored over by lawyers for both sides, who may appeal to the Court of Appeal.

The wording of the judgment will have significance beyond the verdict: the case has been seen as a test of police integrity and the ability of an isolated city's court system to try one of its own accused of killing one of its own.

Mr Rayney's defence team has strongly attacked the methods and motives of detectives involved in Operation Dargun. Comments by the judge about police conduct could have significant ramifications, including an effect on the defamation action brought by Mr Rayney against police, which could be continued in the Supreme Court if he is acquitted.

Justice Martin could also make comments on the credibility of prosecution witnesses at the trial.

The case has divided the State's legal fraternity, with strong and vocal support for Mr Rayney from prominent figures in his profession and the ripples have been felt well beyond the legal set.

The verdict will end a five-year wait for family and friends of the Rayneys, caught not only in a marital dispute but a murder trial.

Friendships have been tested as some positioned themselves on either side: with police and prosecution and with the defence.

A friend and neighbour of Mrs Rayney who testified for the prosecution, Julie Porter, spoke outside court for the first time this week.

Mrs Porter, whose children used to play with the two Rayney daughters on their Como street, had sleepovers and regular backyard parties, said she had been unable to deal with her friend's death while the murder remained unsolved.

"It's really hard knowing that you were 50m away from where police believe someone you love was being murdered," she said.

"My husband has woken me up so many times, crying in my sleep. Perhaps after the verdict I will be able to cry openly."

She said Mrs Rayney did not appear to be in any danger before her death and was looking forward to the rest of her life.

"She said to me (in 2007), 'I can't wait till next year - we'll be having dinner parties, I'm so looking forward to it'. She was taken before her time and she didn't get to see her children grow up.

"I feel sorry for myself and then I think of Ern, (Da Silva, Mrs Rayney's father). There's nothing worse than losing a child."

Mrs Porter said she and her children had lost contact with the Rayney daughters.

"My children loved Corryn and they feel like they lost one of their village aunts," she said.

"They still talk about her. They were really hurt and really miss her and they miss the girls.

"But love doesn't die."

The West Australian

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