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Baden-Clay murder trial: Supreme Court jury told of marriage and debt problems
The jury in the murder trial of former Brisbane real estate agent Gerard Baden-Clay has been shown photos of the blood-stained car allegedly used to transport his wife’s body.
Baden-Clay, 43, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife Allison, on or about April 19, 2012.
His trial got underway on Tuesday in the Supreme Court in Brisbane.
Prosecutor Todd Fuller has delivered his opening address, detailing to the jury Baden-Clay’s marital problems.
The court heard the pair were attending marriage counselling, but that at the same time Gerard Baden-Clay was having an affair with real estate agent Toni McHugh.
Mr Fuller also told the jury the accused was having trouble paying his debts to friends and had once asked State MP Bruce Flegg for a $400,000 loan.
Photos of marks on Baden-Clay’s face were shown to the jury.
Mr Fuller said experts will testify they were more consistent with scratches from a finger rather than a razor.
Mrs Baden-Clay was reported missing from her Brookfield home in Brisbane’s west and her body was discovered 10 days later about 10 kilometres away on the banks of Kholo Creek at Anstead.
On Tuesday, the jury was shown photos of Mrs Baden-Clay’s body by the side of the creek.
The jury was told her body was so badly decomposed that a cause of death could not be established.
They were also told there was no evidence she died of natural causes.
Mr Fuller said the crown’s case is circumstantial but that Mrs Baden-Clay did not die from natural causes, she died at the hands of her husband.
He said Mrs Baden-Clay had two life insurance policies and a third with her superannuation.
Families and friends of the accused and his alleged victim were in court for the day’s proceedings.
Mrs Baden-Clay’s family thanked the media for compassion during the “most devastating period” of their lives and have asked for privacy in a statement issued this morning.
“As a family we would like to thank the Australian media for the respect you have shown us over the past two years during what has been the most devastating period of our lives,” they said.
“Out of respect for our daughter, her children and the legal process we will not be doing any interviews in the lead up to or during the trial. We ask that you respect our privacy and our decision not to grant interviews and refrain from photographing or filming the children.
“We hope you can imagine the ongoing impact of these events on our granddaughters – it has been devastating and will be long lasting.
“Our primary concern remains their emotional and physical wellbeing. We are trying to help them rebuild their lives and ask for your support and cooperation in this.”
Defence lawyer speaks to waiting media
Earlier, Gerard Baden-Clay’s solicitor Peter Shields made a statement outside court.
“At the commencement of the trial, Justice [John] Byrne directed the jury to the danger to paying attention to anything other than the evidence which is placed before them in court,” Mr Shields said.
“Accordingly, the defence and my client’s family will not be making any statement to the media or answering any questions asked by the media until after verdict.”
Proceedings began with the selection of a jury of seven men and five women, plus three women as reserves.
All passed a questionnaire aimed at ensuring a fair trial.
They were asked a series of questions, including whether they lived in Brookfield or nearby in 2012, if they took part in any fundraising for the victim, or if they had ever expressed a view on the case.
Given the high-profile nature of the case, Justice John Byrne has now directed the jury panel to ignore media coverage and social media.
Justice Byrne told jurors “you are not detectives” and instructed them to only consider evidence before the court.
A list of 77 potential witnesses was also read out.
It includes family of the accused and victim, police, real estate agents, as well as Queensland MP for Moggill, Dr Bruce Flegg.
The trial is expected to run for three to four weeks.
- Gerard and Allison Baden-Clay have three young daughters
- Allison Baden-Clay’s parents are Priscilla and Geoff Dickie
- Mrs Baden-Clay has two siblings, older sister Vanessa and younger brother Ashley
- Gerard Baden-Clay’s parents are Nigel and Elaine
- Gerard Baden-Clay has a sister, Olivia Walton
- Mr Baden-Clay is the great-grandson of Scouts movement founder Robert Baden-Powell