A prominent, wealthy businessman was consumed with "sheer hatred" when he attempted to hire a contract killer to murder his estranged daughter-in-law amid his son's bitter and expensive marriage breakdown, a jury was told this morning.
Opening the State case against Brian Vincent Attwell in the Supreme Court in Albany, prosecutor James MacTaggart told the jury the 74-year-old had even researched the Rayney murder trial in Perth before he handed over $10,000 in "cold, hard cash" to a man he knew only as "Josh" as a down payment for getting rid of Michelle Patreena Attwell.
Mr MacTaggart said unbeknown to Mr Attwell, "Josh" was an undercover police officer in a covert operation which secretly recorded the men's conversations and meetings.
Mr Attwell, described by defence lawyer Tom Percy as an "apparent pillar of respectability in the Albany community", is facing trial after pleading not guilty to one charge of attempting to procure the commission of a murder between September 18 and 27 last year.
Mr MacTaggart said Ms Attwell had married the accused's son, Ian, and the couple had a child before their marriage broke down in 2010.
He said by 2012, Mr Attwell felt "sheer" and ""intense" hatred towards his estranged daughter-in-law, who he blamed for the family's problems and claimed to have cost them $200,000.
Mr MacTaggart said Mr Attwell initially offered $30,000 to a local man who was looking for a job with his contract company as he wanted Ms Attwell "gone".
Mr MacTaggart said recordings would be played to the jury, in which Mr Attwell was heard telling "Josh" that he wanted to get rid of Ms Attwell. He said he handed over $7000 and discussed wanting her buried and strangled.
"Ask her for a cup of coffee, then grab the c... of a thing, bind her with duct tape, her arms behind her back and strangle the f...... thing," Mr MacTaggart alleged Mr Attwell had said.
Mr MacTaggart said Mr Attwell referred to the Rayney murder trial in Perth, telling the undercover officer: "In my view, what Rayney did constituted justice."
He said Mr Attwell then met the officer the following day, handed over another $3000 cash and the pair decided on a code name - "AD 5" - for Ms Attwell's murder.
But opening the defence case, Mr Percy said had never intended for his estranged daughter-in-law to be killed.
"There is no doubt that at the time, he had nothing but contempt and loathing for his daughter-in-law," Mr Percy said.
"But this was essentially bravado and puff. In reality, he meant her no physical harm, he certainly did not want her dead."
Mr Percy said Mr Attwell had handed over the $10,000 to keep "Josh" on the line and was considering whether something could be done to "scare" Ms Atwell into backing down from the "mayhem" he believed she was causing his family.
"Whilst he talked the talk, he had no intention of actually walking the walk," Mr Percy said.