Pain is clear as proud dad tells of memories
Ernest Da Silva leaves court after giving evidence. Picture: Michael Wilson, The West Australian

It took just one brief but powerful pause in Ernest Da Silva's evidence yesterday to lay bare the emotional impact Corryn Rayney's death in 2007 has had on her family.

In a few seconds of silence, Mrs Rayney's father held back tears and asked for a moment to collect himself before continuing his evidence.

He had been in the middle of describing how, just months before his daughter's death, he advised her husband Lloyd Rayney to focus on their "two beautiful girls" when he fell silent, overwhelmed by emotion.

Yesterday, Mr Da Silva was faced with what must be the unthinkable for any parent.

Sitting in the Supreme Court witness stand, confronted by benches of lawyers and a court gallery packed with onlookers, he began summarising his daughter's life in a trial centring on her alleged murder.

On the other side of the courtroom, sitting in the dock, was his son-in-law, Mr Rayney, who is fighting an allegation he killed the 44-year-old following a bitter marriage breakdown.

It was no doubt a painful but necessary step in what the grandfather and his other daughter, Sharon Coutinho, have called their search for answers to Mrs Rayney's death.

After five years of living with those questions, Mr Da Silva remained largely composed yesterday as he outlined his daughter's life.

In evidence that would have resembled a speech from any proud parent at a family function, he traversed through his daughter's history - from her arrival as a nine-year-old child from Uganda in 1973, through her academic achievements and blossoming legal career for which she did her articles with the now-High Court Chief Justice Robert French - to her role as a mother of her daughters who were aged 10 and 13 when she died.

In particular, he described how his daughter had been "very happy" and pleased with how she had managed to cope looking after her daughters alone in Perth while her husband spent a stint working in Bermuda.

He laughed as he joked how his daughter had taken over his wife's role after his spouse's death in 2000, calling him daily and generally "bullying" him.

But peppered among the happy memories of his daughter were the tragic insights into a marriage beyond repair and which is now seen as the catalyst for her death.

In an interview with _The West Australian _ the week before the highly anticipated trial, Mr Da Silva said the notion that time healed pain was a fallacy.

"It just makes you hardened," he said of his grief.

Yesterday, as his testimony touched upon the topic of his two granddaughters, that pain came yet again to the surface.

The West Australian

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