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Baden-Clay murder trial: Former mistress tells of anger over accused wife-killer’s other affairs
Gerard Baden-Clay’s former mistress confronted him about his other affairs after his wife was found dead, Brisbane’s Supreme Court has heard.
Baden-Clay, 43, a former real estate agent, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his 43-year-old wife Allison in April 2012.
The body of the mother of three was found on a creek bank under the Kholo Creek bridge at Anstead, about 10 kilometres from the couple’s Brookfield home, west of Brisbane.
Today Baden-Clay’s former mistress, Toni McHugh, was cross-examined by defence barrister Michael Byrne QC about her tumultuous relationship with the accused, which lasted from 2008 to 2012.
She broke down as she was questioned about her last face-to-face meeting with Baden-Clay in June 2012, after they both had been interviewed several times by police.
Ms McHugh said she and Baden-Clay met for the last time in a Fortitude Valley rental unit in Brisbane’s inner city in June 2012.
She told the court she was angry and upset with him after being told by the police that he had had relationships with other women.
“I knew these women – I knew who they were, I knew one more so than the other,” she said.
“He went on to tell me … the fact that he had these affairs … and that they didn’t mean anything.
“First one – didn’t come into play when we were together.
“The second – yes, we were together when that was happening.
“Gerard had gone down to a conference in Sydney – this particular woman was also at the conference.”
When asked if she felt like she was being “played”, Ms McHugh replied: “It’s the symptom of an affair, isn’t it?”
She also told the court about the ups and downs of their relationship, and how that was a pattern that went on for years.
Mr Byrne suggested to Ms McHugh that by April 2012 her affair with Baden-Clay was a pattern of him making promises, but nothing ever moving forward.
She agreed, saying she always left things to the accused and one day she expected it to happen, but it never did.
Mistress had expected Baden-Clay to leave wife
Ms McHugh told the court that both she and the accused were getting on with their lives, with the intention he would leave his wife and they would be together in the future.
“I wasn’t expecting it to happen in days – one day I did expect it to happen,” she said.
Ms McHugh said she ended her relationship with her husband, Rob, in 2008.
“We had a long relationship that was based on a lot of respect for each other,” she said.
“It was fraught with some differences – our children were our priority – but Gerard was a part of ending that relationship.
“From my point of view I had very strong feelings and attachment to Gerard and I was not going to remain in that marriage with Rob.”
The jury was again shown emails, dated just weeks before Allison was reported missing on April 20, in which Baden-Clay promised to leave his wife by July 1, 2012.
In an email dated April 11, 2012, Baden-Clay wrote “leave things to me now”.
Ms McHugh told the court she always left things to him, but nothing ever happened.
She was also asked about a phone call with Baden-Clay on April 19, 2012, in which she flew into a rage after learning Allison would attend a real estate conference the following day.
“I was extremely put off by Allison being there – I could not not go to conference,” she said.
Ms McHugh said she did not see Allison at the conference and when she called Baden-Clay, he said his wife had gone missing.
Court hears triple-0 phone call
The jury also listened to the triple-0 call Baden-Clay made to report his wife missing on April 20, 2012.
In the recording, Baden-Clay said to the female operator: “I don’t want to be alarmist but my wife isn’t home. I don’t know where she is.”
He explained that he had woke that morning and Allison was not there.
He said that was not unusual because she usually went for a walk in the morning.
The operator asked for a description of his wife. He said she had “blondey-brownish-reddish, shoulder-length hair”.
When asked how old his wife was, Baden-Clay replied: “44”. Allison was 43 when she disappeared.
Doctor testifies Allison was not a high suicide risk
Earlier today, two psychologists told the court they had no concerns Allison was suicidal before her death.
Dr Nicholas Bourke told the court he saw Allison four times in 2011 at a clinic in Kenmore: May 30, August 24, September 20 and on October 6.
He said that at the May 30 consultation, “she felt guilt and anxiety and she was worried she had low mood and at times was teary”.
“She was keen to restart Zoloft – an anti-depressant medication something she had been on in the past with success.”
Dr Bourke told the court he referred Allison to psychologist Dr Laurie Lumsden during a consultation in August 2011.
At that consultation, Dr Bourke said he performed an assessment on her called a K10 mental health assessment, which gives a score out of 50.
Dr Bourke told the court he gave Allison a score of 18 out of 50, with 50 meaning likely to be in a severe state of distress.
He told the court he had not considered her a high suicide risk because she had a high degree of resilience, was very organised and had good insight.
However under cross-examination, Dr Bourke agreed with the defence that it was possible people suffering depression can sometimes mask their feelings to others, including professionals.
Allison believed she was partially to blame for affair
Counsellor Carmel Ritchie from Relationships Australia also testified, telling the court she held sessions with both Allison and Gerard Baden-Clay in March and April 2012.
“When I asked her [Allison] to define the problems that she saw in her life, she said: ‘I am feeling inadequate not good enough. I believe I let it happen – Gerard’s way is the right way, Gerard has had an affair for the last three years’,” she said.
Ms Ritchie says Allison told her she feared that her husband would leave her.
“She said on her honeymoon she took an anti-malarial which resulted in chronic depression and some psychotic episodes,” she said.
“She said she had panic attacks in a particular pregnancy. Her husband’s attitude was ‘get over it’.”
Ms Ritchie said Allison believed she was partially to blame for Baden-Clay’s affair, as he had told her she was not the girl he married.
Ms Ritchie said on April 16, 2012, she held a counselling session with the couple that included one-on-one time with Baden-Clay.
She told the court he showed a commitment to his marriage.
“I asked what he hoped to gain from counselling,” she said.
“He replied with: ‘I want to build a future together, not regressing. I want to get on with life and wipe it clean’.”
Ms Ritchie says she thought Allison was hopeful when she left their last appointment.
Accused wife killer Gerard Baden-Clay’s former mistress says he had affairs with at least two other women, and one occurred while they were in a relationship.
17 Jun 2014
Real estate worker Toni McHugh on Tuesday returned to the witness box in the Supreme Court in Brisbane where the murder trial of Baden-Clay, 43, has entered its fifth day.
On Monday she detailed her roller-coaster three-and-a-half year affair with former real estate agent Baden-Clay, which ended when his wife Allison Baden-Clay vanished in April 2012 and was found dead ten days later.
Being re-examined by Crown prosecutor Todd Fuller, Ms McHugh said Baden-Clay had told her about affairs with two other women in a conversation in December 2011.
At the time the father of three had just rekindled his relationship with Ms McHugh, a real estate worker, after a break of several months.
“He said there are some things I need to one day tell you,” Ms McHugh said, adding he was referring to the affairs with two women.
She said one of the affairs occurred when they weren’t seeing each other, but the other had happened during their secret relationship.
Baden-Clay told her it happened when he went to a real estate conference in Sydney with other sales members from his real estate practice, and the affair happened with another woman at the conference.
The first day of the conference Baden-Clay talked her into travelling to see him in Sydney, Ms McHugh said.
“My understanding was that it happened the day before,” she said.
Earlier, a teary Ms McHugh insisted under cross examination that in early 2012 she believed Baden-Clay would leave his marriage for her.
Defence barrister Michael Byrne said Baden-Clay had been promising to leave his wife for years and had never acted on it.
“I wasn’t expecting it to happen in days,” she said.
“One day you expected it?,” Mr Byrne asked.
“Yes, one day I did expect it to happen,” she replied.
Allison Baden-Clay’s body was found on a creek bank in Anstead in Brisbane’s west on April 30, 2012, ten days after her husband reported her missing from their nearby home.
Baden-Clay has pleaded not guilty to murder.
The trial continues.