UK & World News

  • 15 July 2014, 14:57

Husband Guilty In Murder Trial That Gripped Oz

Brisbane estate agent Gerard Baden-Clay has been sentenced to life for murdering his wife in a case that has captivated Australia.

The 43-year-old killed his wife, Allison, in April 2012 and dumped her body under a bridge 13km (8 miles) away from their home in the suburb of Brookfield.

Baden-Clay cried as his victim's mother read an impact statement, saying he had destroyed the lives of the couple's three young daughters.

"You have changed your daughters' destiny and sentenced them to life," said Priscilla Dickie.

Despite being found with suspect scratches on his face and body, Baden-Clay always maintained he was innocent and said his wife simply went for a walk and never returned.

But the court heard Baden-Clay - great-grandson of the founder of the Scouting movement Lord Baden-Powell - was a man under pressure.

The trial heard he was struggling to repay over $A500,000 (273,000) to friends and ex-business partners.

He was also caught between two women. His lover, Toni McHugh, was frustrated over promises he would leave his wife, pleading in an email that she was "sick of being second best and having to take the back seat".

At the same time, during counselling to save their failing marriage, Baden-Clay was telling his wife he wanted a future with her.

The court heard how Baden-Clay had told Ms McHugh in an email weeks before his wife's death: "Leave things to me now."

The two women were due to potentially meet at the same real estate conference on the day she was reported missing, April 20, 2012.

Hundreds of police joined the search for Mrs Baden-Clay, but her decomposing body was found 10 days later by a kayaker at Kholo Creek. The cause of her death remains unclear.

Baden-Clay faced a wealth of circumstantial evidence in the trial.

He claimed the scratch marks on his face were a shaving accident, but experts told the trial they were more likely to be fingernail marks.

He had no explanation for the other marks on his body.

DNA testing identified blood in the boot of Mrs Baden-Clay's car as her own, while leaves found caught up in her hair matched six species near the couple's home.

Baden-Clay also phoned his lawyer in the hours after his wife's body was found and the next day inquired about her life insurance policy.

The defence tried to depict the victim as depressed and suggested she may have simply wandered off to her death. But friends and experts told the trial she was not suicidal.

Baden-Clay, who has been in prison since his arrest in June 2012, will not be eligible for parole for at least 15 years.

Advertisement