It took just 40 minutes yesterday for a Supreme Court judge to end five years of accusation and speculation against Lloyd Rayney.

But in the same move, the tragic murder mystery surrounding Corryn Rayney's death was left unresolved.

After analysing three months of evidence, Justice Brian Martin ruled that he could not find beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Rayney, a father of two and former prosecutor, was responsible for a brutal attack on his estranged wife at the family's Como home on August 7, 2007.

"The case for the State is beset by improbabilities and uncertainties," Justice Martin said.

"Crucial evidence is lacking and the absence of evidence tells strongly against the State."

In a rare and touching public show of emotion from a judge, Justice Martin appeared to hold back tears as he acknowledged his verdict would cause distress to some people.

"I will take an unusual course and make an exception to mention one person and that's Corryn's father," he said, looking to Mrs Rayney's father, Ernest Da Silva, in the crowded gallery.

"Mr Da Silva, throughout the trial, you have behaved impeccably and with dignity. I thank you."

Appearing calm as he listened to the judgment, even as Justice Martin at one point attacked his credibility, Mr Rayney turned to his supportive 15-year-old daughter Sarah and his sister Raelene Johnston when the judge announced he was not guilty of wilful murder or the alternative charge of manslaughter.

Moments after the verdict, Mr Rayney hurried to a small room and called his 18-year-old daughter Caitlyn, who was waiting by a phone overseas, where she is studying.

Mr Rayney's lawyer Laura Timpano said those moments in the room had been emotional but happy.

"There is a sadness that Caitlyn couldn't be here today because I think that would give her a sense of closure," Ms Timpano said.

"But I am sure that she will get to spend some time with her dad soon and I think the girls still probably have a lot of grieving to do.

"Maybe the time has arrived for them to be able to kind of move forward and get some normality into their lives."

Both girls, who the State alleged were asleep at home as Mr Rayney drove his wife's body to Kings Park and buried her, have supported their father, who is understood to have spent $2 million on his defence.

An unprecedented scrum of media and community members met Mr Rayney as he paused on the court's steps after the verdict to make his first statement as a cleared man.

"It's hard to imagine it is half a decade ago that Corryn tragically died," he said. "It has been five years since Sarah and Caitlyn have been without their mum . . . They still don't know, we still don't know what happened to Corryn.

"That is a terrible tragedy.

"Despite the best-funded investigation . . . this is still unsolved and that is an extremely hard thing for my family to accept."

Within hours, well-wishers bearing gifts began gathering at the Como home where Mr Rayney lives with his daughter Sarah.

Mrs Rayney's sister Sharon Coutinho, whose family and father had backed the State in the case, thanked police and prosecutors, family and friends who supported them through their loss.

"Our quest for seeking justice for Corryn will continue," she said.

While Justice Martin was satisfied Mrs Rayney was attacked at the family home - a crucial aspect of the State's case - he ruled there was "no evidence from within the house or in the yard to implicate the accused in the attack upon the deceased".

He found Mrs Rayney was attacked at the front of the property but took her last breaths at Kings Park, where she was buried.

Despite criticising police conduct in the case as "ranging from inappropriate to reprehensible", Justice Martin said there was no evidence lines of inquiry were not properly investigated.

However, the State had failed to "disprove" that Mrs Rayney was the victim of a sexually motivated attack from an unknown offender.

Our quest for seeking justice for Corryn will continue" Mrs Rayney's sister *Sharon Coutinho *

The West Australian

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