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Baden-Clay murder trial: Neighbour heard screams in the night ‘like someone falling off a cliff’
A woman who lived near accused wife-killer Gerard Baden-Clay’s home in Brisbane’s west has told his murder trial she heard a woman screaming in the night around the time his wife disappeared.
Baden-Clay, 43, a former real estate agent, has pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court to killing his 43-year-old wife 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.
Fiona White, who in 2012 was living at Kenmore Hills, near the Baden-Clay family home, today told the court she heard screams in the night during the week Allison went missing, although she was not able to say which night it was.
“Look for me it was high, quite high scream. The way I would describe it there and then was it was like someone falling off a cliff, being pushed,” she said.
She said she heard two distinct screams, “straight one after the other… from what I remember, I would have said it was a female”.
She said the screams came from the direction of the Baden-Clay house.
Neighbour Susan Braun told the court she was woken up some time after 11.30pm by someone calling out the night before Allison went missing.
“I went to sleep then was woken up a second time with someone calling out,” she said.
“I was sound asleep and I heard a loud human noise. It was calling out – I don’t know what the words were.
“It woke me up with a fright.”
Ms Braun said she could not tell whether the voice was male or female, and the voice was raised for less than 10 seconds.
Father says Baden-Clay was in a ‘normal’ mood
Nigel Baden-Clay told the court his son was in a “normal” mood the night before reporting his wife missing.
He said he helped Gerard with his real estate business weekly by collecting and removing signs at properties.
Mr Baden-Clay said on April 19, 2012, his son and his three grand-daughters had an informal dinner at his home nearby.
He said Allison did not attend the dinner, but that was not unusual.
Early the next morning, Mr Baden-Clay said he got a phone call from his son who said: “Dad I don’t want to alarm you, but have you seen Allison?”.
He said Gerard was anxious, but was trying to be calm.
Mr Baden-Clay said he and his daughter Olivia drove in separate cars to his son’s home in Brookfield.
He said when he arrived, he noticed marks on his son’s face and Gerard said he had cut himself shaving.
Mr Baden-Clay said he looked after the girls while Gerard immediately left to search for his wife.
The police arrived not long after he returned, Mr Baden-Clay said.
Mr Baden-Clay will resume his evidence when the trial resumes on Monday.
Youngest daughter said ‘mum went out and stayed out’
Earlier the jury watched a police interview with the Baden-Clays’ youngest daughter, in which the girl, who was then five years old and cradling a purple stuffed toy, told police her mother “went out and stayed out” on the morning of her disappearance.
Baden-Clay wept in court as he watched the video, recorded by police on the afternoon Allison was reported missing.
In it, the girl told detectives she had been watching TV with her two older sisters that morning.
Officers asked the girl if she heard her mum and dad talking when she went to bed, and she replied: “No”.
The girl said when she woke up the next day, her mother was out.
“I didn’t get to see her at all because I was fast asleep,” she said.
“She was walking for a long time and we think she twisted her ankle.”
She said she had then taken part in a search party for Allison.
“[When] we finished school, dad said to us that dad couldn’t find mum,” she said.
“Dad told us that mum was gone and dad thinks she went for a walk.
“We saw that mum was gone and then we searched for her.
“We had a search party … everybody was searching for mum.”
‘You could see he was worried’: Baden-Clay daughter
In court this morning, the jury also saw a police interview with the Baden-Clay’s eldest daughter, recorded on June 27, 2012, in which she was asked if she remembered any of the conversations she had with her father on the morning her mother disappeared.
“He was just trying to be confident for us [and saying, she’ll be back],” she said in the video.
“You could see that he was worried – he was calling people [relatives].
“And then he called the police and as we left to go to school the police arrived.”
She was also asked about the night before when she went to bed, as well as the next night when her mother had gone missing.
The girl said she could not remember hearing anything on those nights.
“Dad went downstairs to get [something] from the downstairs fridge and mum was watching TV but they didn’t say anything that I heard,” she said in the recording.
She also said she did not hear anyone else’s voice or any car noises on that night or the next morning.
Allison Baden-Clay found out about husband’s affair
Yesterday, the court heard Baden-Clay spoke with staff individually about his affair with a colleague.
Three women who worked at the Century 21 Westside real estate office at Taringa where the accused was principal testified their colleague, Toni McHugh, stopped working at the office suddenly in late 2011.
All three women described being called in to a meeting with Gerard Baden-Clay, who explained he had been having an affair with Ms McHugh and that his wife had found out.
Receptionist Gabrielle Cadioli said Baden-Clay had told her he loved Ms McHugh but she could not work at the agency any more.
Assistant property manager Kate Rankin told the court she had known about the affair for several months before Allison became aware of it.
Under cross-examination, Ms Rankin said Baden-Clay was a good boss who was always very pleasant.
The court also heard Baden-Clay sounded very casual on the phone on the morning he reported his wife missing.
Wendy Mollah, a close friend of Allison, told the court she became aware of Baden-Clay’s affair with another woman and told Allison in September 2011.
She said Allison told her later that she had confronted her husband and demanded his mistress leave the business.
Ms Mollah said on the day Mrs Baden-Clay was reported missing in April 2012, she spoke to the accused and he sounded very casual for someone whose wife had disappeared.
Under cross-examination from the defence, Ms Mollah said she last saw her friend three weeks before her disappearance and that Allison was still finding it difficult to deal with her husband’s affair.
The trial will resume on Monday.