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Reporters tell of unusual Rayney police HQ briefing

Normally used to asking the questions, three of Perth’s top crime reporters were on the receiving end today, quizzed in court about their recollections of the press conference at which lawyer Lloyd Rayney was named as the prime and only suspect in his wife’s murder.

Grant Taylor, now of The West Australian, David Cooper and Sean Cowan, formerly at The West, were all present at police headquarters on September 20, 2007, when Det-Sen. Sgt Jack Lee made the statements that are still resonating almost a decade on.

And yesterday they were back together in court — at one point side by side in the witness stand — to tell Justice John Chaney their role in reporting one of the most covered crimes in WA history.

Corryn Rayney disappeared after a bootscooting class in August 2007.

Her body was found in Kings Park a week later.

Taylor, who was at the time a crime reporter for the Nine Network, told the court the day of the press conference had already been an unusual one, starting as it did with the sight of one of Perth’s top lawyers being led away by police from his Como home.

“We all wanted to know what the hell was going on,” Taylor said.

At the press conference, the reporters were given more information than they knew what to do with.

Taylor said he could not remember another instance when the word “suspect” was used by police until then.

Mr Rayney had previously said he believed the words used by Det-Sen. Sgt Lee were “unprecedented” in WA legal history.

In other evidence, Mr Rayney’s former secretary Shari Paradise told the court in a witness statement that she found Mrs Rayney “unsympathetic” and “cold” when her boss’ father had died months earlier — and also said she felt it was “totally ludicrous” him being named the prime suspect.

“I said Lloyd was around 5’4” with a bad back, the girls had been home and no one heard anything or saw anything — I said they must be really grasping at straws.”

WA’s Supreme Court was also told yesterday that Mrs Rayney’s father, Ernest Da Silva, and her sister Sharon Coutinho will be among the first witnesses called by the State when their case begins next week.

They will be followed by a large number of Operation Dargan officers, including Det-Sen. Sgt Lee, who will be one of the later witnesses called.

Also on the witness list is the man Mr Rayney believed his wife was having an affair with, and Tim Pearson, whom Mr Rayney employed to install recording equipment in his home.

Mr Pearson gave evidence at both the murder trial and the trial involving Mr Rayney’s telephone intercept charges, both of which led to acquittals.

This trial was told earlier that Mr Pearson’s whereabouts were uncertain.

The trial continues.

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