Gordon Wood threw the love of his life, Caroline Byrne, off a Sydney cliff rather than lose her and everything else important to him, a jury has been told on Monday.
In the Crown closing address today, Mark Tedeschi QC said Wood was under extreme pressure, partly because his boss, stockbroker Rene Rivkin, was “paranoid” about Byrne.
Wood, 45, has pleaded not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to murdering his 24-year-old live-in lover at The Gap, in Sydney’s east, late on the night of June 7, 1995.
Tedeschi said the bottom line of the crown case was Gordon Wood’s knowledge of the exact location of Ms Byrne’s body before she was found at the cliff base.
Despite all witnesses saying the night was very dark, making visibility very poor, Wood told people he could see her legs and shoes from the cliff top.
“The only rational explanation of the accused’s knowledge is that the accused was there when she went over the cliff,” Tedeschi said.
In the leadup to Byrne’s death, Wood’s life was about to unravel, Tedeschi said.
He stood to lose everything – love, employment, future fortune and the self-esteem he felt from working as Rivkin’s driver.
“He killed Caroline rather than lose her and lose everything else in his life,” Tedeschi alleged.
He said Rivkin was “paranoid about the love of his (Wood’s) life”.
Tony Byrne said his daughter told him Rivkin was worried about the amount she knew about his business and private affairs and tried to drive “a wedge” between her and Wood.
While there was absolutely no evidence to show Wood and his boss were in a sexual relationship, Mr Tedeschi said Byrne had raised concerns about the stockbroker’s intentions.
He referred the jury to evidence from a gym manager who said Byrne confided in him months before her death, saying Wood was very possessive and “it is like he wants to kill me”.
On the Friday before her death, a cleaner at the gym said she saw her “cowering in a corner, sobbing uncontrollably”.
The witness said Wood was berating and abusing his girlfriend.
“We submit to you the accused was a control freak but Caroline was such a lovely, gentle and naive person, that for a long time she did not recognise the danger of such possessiveness,” Tedeschi said.
He submitted the jurors might think that she had “wised up” and intimated to Wood she wanted out of the relationship.
This led to Wood making “one last desperate attempt to woo her back” on June 7, 1995, when he made arrangements for her not to go to work.
Tedeschi said two restaurateurs near The Gap had described seeing a woman and man, whose descriptions fitted Byrne and her boyfriend, on June 7.
He also noted evidence from a resident who heard a long argument late that night between a man and a woman, who was sitting in the gutter sobbing and slurring her words.
Submitting they were Wood and Byrne, Tedeschi said rather than being drunk or affected by drugs, the jury may think she was distressed at being harangued by her boyfriend about breaking up.
“In all probability, Caroline Byrne was unconscious or at least incapacitated when she was thrown off,” he said.
He also contended the jury would be satisfied that Byrne did not commit suicide.
Tedeschi will continue his closing address tomorrow before Justice Graham Barr.
The jurors were told the trial will adjourn early tomorrow to enable them to watch The Melbourne Cup at a venue outside the precincts of the court.