– Don’t call Lloyd Rayney lucky just because he’s not in jail. If the disgraced barrister were lucky, he wouldn’t have been forced through a punishingly public investigation and murder trial – ruining his once flourishing law practice, his reputation and what was left of his savings.
Five years after a killer buried his wife’s body – head first and legs folded – in a hole dug in a Perth park, Rayney was finally found not guilty of her murder three months ago. But, given the presumption he was innocent to begin with, being acquitted was hardly lucky.
In the eyes of the law, it’s merely just.
In fact, the former West Australian prosecutor (and sometime legal adviser to Gina Rinehart) might be one of the unluckiest men around. He seemed to be in luck when he married the beautiful and talented Corryn Da Silva in the 1980s, but it’s been downhill since.
The first time Rayney’s name made national news was in 2000 when he appeared in Broome to prosecute the famous art critic and historian Robert Hughes for dangerous driving. That followed a terrible road smash Hughes had allegedly caused, almost killing himself and injuring people in another car.
Hughes (who died last year) eventually pleaded guilty.
But he was characteristically caustic about the prosecutors and their work. He likened Western Australia Justice to Western Australian culture, a crack he might have got away with.
But he also made the grave social and legal error of calling Rayney a “curry muncher”, presumably a reference to one part of the lawyer’s Irish-Indian ancestry.
Legal rumour has it that Rayney and his boss, Robert Cock, divvied up a fat defamation settlement. It’s unclear exactly what Hughes said of Cock but it was presumably bull.
Leaving aside the confidential defamation payment, it looks as if Hughes’ attack jinxed Rayney. He might have expected to take over as the state’s chief prosecutor a couple of years later but was overlooked.
Instead he took a job as prosecutor in Bermuda, hired by a former Perth legal colleague. He went to Bermuda alone, leaving his wife Corryn – who had a successful career – and young daughters in Perth for 18 months.
The time apparently undermined the Rayney’s already rocky marriage. By the night Corryn vanished in August 2007, the frayed relationship had become bitter on both sides, a court would be told late last year.
There were allegations of affairs on both sides, and Lloyd Rayney’s heavy gambling concerned the family. By 2007 the couple had already been sleeping in separate rooms, but Corryn (a Supreme Court registrar) was taking steps to push her estranged husband out if the family house in the suburb of Como.
In the weeks before her death she turned up the heat. Apart from the usual property and financial claims that accompany divorce or separation, she had started emailing documents to Rayney’s office that were calculated to rattle him and wreck his reputation.
In them, she made devastating and unproven allegations about why she wanted him out of the house and family. It seemed a deliberate smear tactic, one so strong the police would later present it as a motive for murder. Despite the hostility, Corryn Rayney felt secure enough to come to the house after a boot-scooting dance class to discuss her demands on the night of August 7th, 2007.
By her husband’s account, never disproven, she did not enter the house that night. He eventually reported her missing next day.
That is where Lloyd Rayney’s bad luck became unbelievably worse. It was terribly unlucky for him that his angry, estranged wife was apparently attacked on their doorstep the same night they were due to confront each other to discuss kicking him out of the house.
But it got worse still.
Within days, a family searching Perth’s King’s Park for a missing family member found a name tag in Ramsey’s name – a leftover from a formal dinner.
The name tag was handed to police just before they discovered the dead woman’s grave within a few metres of where the tag had been found.
The police found the grave by dumb luck.
Whoever killed and buried Mrs Rayney had used her own car to move her body.
But, like Rayney, the killer had bad luck: ramming a bollard with car and fracturing the transmission so that oil leaked on to the road from the gravesite to nearby Kershaw Street, Subiaco, where the car was later found abandoned.
It was lucky for Rayney that the killer did not dump the car near his Como address, although it was shown later an average adult could cover the eight kilometres from the car to Rayney’s house in little more than an hour. (Of course, the same person could have walked the same distance in any direction – meaning the killer could have come from any one of hundreds of thousands of homes.)
The most obvious route between Como and King’s Park was across the Narrows Bridge. Luckily, for the killer, the bridge’s traffic cameras were not working the night Corryn vanished.
But her husband’s run of bad luck continued.
Police found that the Subiaco street where the car was found was one he knew well, as two of his closest colleagues lived close by.
Detectives believe that killers mostly dump bodies and cars in familiar places.
That might explain why a senior policeman publicly nominated Rayney as the prime and only suspect within days of the body being found. Rayney sued for defamation. The policeman was transferred to a remote bush town.
If he rejoiced three years later when Rayney was charged with murder, it was another case of premature speculation.
Because two years after the arrest, a judge sitting alone found Rayney not guilty. And it’s not over.
The prosecution has appealed, a process that could drag out at least another year.
The killer, meanwhile, is at large – Andrew Rule


About Jumpin' Jack Cash
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