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Very public Rayney arrest comes after much speculation
Very public Rayney arrest comes after much speculation

UPDATE: Prominent Perth lawyer Lloyd Patrick Rayney has appeared in Perth Magistrates Court charged with the wilful murder of his wife Corryn Rayney.

Wearing a black suit and white shirt without a tie, Mr Rayney looked on as his defence lawyer Sam Vandongen told the Chief Magistrate Steven Heath his client “obviously intended to plead not guilty”.

Mr Heath remanded Mr Rayney in custody to appear in Stirling Garden’s Magistrates Court on December 15.

He told Mr Rayney he was permitted to make an application for bail, adding “as you are well aware”, making reference to Mr Rayney’s experience on the other side of the dock.

More than 20 journalists packed into the crammed courtroom and many people stood in the public gallery when Mr Rayney was led into the dock.

Detectives and Mr Rayney’s defence team, consisting of lawyers Sam Vandongen and Gerald Yin, refused to comment as they left court and were confronted by the large media contingent.

It was also announced today that NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery will lead the prosecution due to Mr Rayney’s role as a long-term senior prosecutor with the WA DPP.

Renowned NSW Senior Counsel John Agius, who assisted in the Wood Royal Commission into NSW police corruption, said he would join Mr Cowdery.

The high-profile Sydney silk, who was flown in yesterday for the first appearance as prosecutor in the case, said outside court he could not go into any details about the case, but believed Mr Rayney could get a fair trial in WA.

"Trials occur against the backdrop of publicity every day," he said.

Mr Agius said he would be in Perth as long as necessary.

WA DPP Joe McGrath confirmed he had asked Mr Cowdery and Mr Agius to run the prosecution.

“I have asked Attorney-General Christian Porter to arrange for the appointment of Mr Cowdery QC to conduct this Western Australian prosecution.”

The long wait by police for forensic results and legal advice yesterday culminated in the arrest of Mr Rayney for the alleged murder of his wife Corryn, a WA Supreme Court registrar and mother of two killed in August 2007.

Major crime squad detectives in unmarked police cars swooped as Mr Rayney drove his blue Toyota Camry station wagon on Barrack Street near the Bell Tower about 10.30am. In a very public arrest, they pulled his car over opposite the Supreme Court, where his wife worked as a registrar.

Detectives secured Mr Rayney's car then put him into the back of an unmarked police car.

Sharred Weller, who drove past the activity near the Bell Tower about 10.45am, said Mr Rayney appeared calm as detectives spoke to him by the side of the road.

According to the 22-year-old courier, there were at least six officers at the scene.

Some questioned Mr Rayney as he stood on the pavement while another filmed the events.

Another witness said that he saw Mr Rayney standing against his station wagon with his hands on its roof.

When Mr Weller again drove past, he saw Mr Rayney sitting in the back of an unmarked police car with a detective.

"When I (first) went past he was standing there and no one was touching him (but) it looked like they were being stern with him," he said.

"I was a bit shocked obviously, knowing that there are still investigations going on."

Mr Rayney was taken to Curtin House in Northbridge and interviewed as detectives and forensic experts searched his home in Monash Avenue, Como.

Mr Rayney's lawyers attended the search and last night officers carried shovels into the front yard of the home.

"Police expect to conduct further forensic work . . . as a consequence of this arrest and this is considered a routine part of this investigation," Det-Supt Paul Coombes said yesterday.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Dargan, captured the imagination of the public.

Mrs Rayney vanished after a weekly bootscooting class in Bentley about 9.30pm on August 7, 2007.

Seven days later detectives discovered her silver Ford Fairmont sedan parked on Kershaw Street, Subiaco.

A trail of transmission fluid led investigators to a bush grave nearby in Kings Park, where Mrs Rayney's body was found.

Within weeks, detectives raided the Rayney family home, charged Mr Rayney for allegedly bugging the home telephone and publicly named him as the "prime" and "only" suspect.

Those statements led Mr Rayney to sue for defamation.

Mr Rayney has repeatedly denied involvement in the death of his wife.

In September, the Supreme Court gave police access to electronic documents.

Mr Rayney and one of his clients, billionaire Gina Rinehart, claimed legal professional privilege after police seized his computer and other materials after the discovery of Mrs Rayney's body.

In the past three years, forensic items taken from the bush grave site, Mrs Rayney's car and the Rayney home have been repeatedly tested.

It is believed police were given the green light to charge Mr Rayney after consulting a senior Eastern States barrister.

The WA Director of Public Prosecutions has not been used for advice because Mr Rayney is a former senior employee of that office.

In a statement released after the court appearance today, WA Director of Public Prosecutions Joe McGrath said Mr Rayney's prosecution would be conducted by New South Wales DPP Nicholas Cowdrey.

“I have asked Mr Cowdery QC to conduct the prosecution of Mr Rayney through his office and he has agreed to do so,” Mr McGrath said.

“Consequently, the prosecution will be conducted by the NSW DPP and an independent senior counsel from the NSW Bar.

“I have asked Attorney-General Christian Porter to arrange for the appointment of Mr Cowdery QC to conduct this WA prosecution.”

Yesterday afternoon, Det-Supt Coombes read a prepared statement at police headquarters, saying a WA man had been arrested without incident and charged with wilful murder over Mrs Rayney's death.

Mr Rayney was not named at the conference or in a media release issued yesterday because of legal advice stemming from his legal action against WA Police.

Additional reporting by Legal Affairs Editor Amanda Banks, Kate Campbell and Belle Taylor.

Picture: Steve Ferrier