Why this case gripped Australia

Last updated 18:32 16/07/2014
gerard baden-clay

BEFORE: Allison and Gerard Baden-Clay with their three children.

gerard baden-clay
GUILTY: Gerard Baden-Clay.

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The mistresses, the lies, the financial troubles, a wife desperate to fix her marriage and the scratches on his face have made the Gerard Baden-Clay murder trial one of the country's most closely watched criminal cases.

A husband killing his wife is not unheard of, in fact 36 per cent (or 185) of all homicides in Australia during 2008 to 2010 were domestic-related.

Of those, 66 per cent (122) were committed by an intimate partner, national statistics show.

But the murder of Allison Baden-Clay at the hands of her husband has fascinated the public.

"Allison and Gerard had appeared to be a normal successful couple but once you started peeling the layers away it was clear this was not the case," criminologist and former Queensland detective inspector Terry Goldsworthy told AAP.

"There's the failing finances, a mistress and then more mistresses.

"What triggers the public even more are the couple's three daughters; young victims left without parents."

The case stood out from the start because there were so many questions and the scratches on Baden-Clay's face were suspicious.

"A husband who stabs his wife to death and then is found within hours and arrested is not as fascinating," Dr Goldsworthy said.

"This case was different, there were so many questions: 'is she really a missing person, did something worse happen, did he kill her?'"

On April 30, 2012, 10 days after Baden-Clay reported his wife missing, a kayaker finds her badly decomposed body lying on a creek bed 13km away from their family home in the affluent Brisbane suburb of Brookfield.

Pathologists were unable to determine a cause of death.

"Again there were these unanswered questions. What happened to her?" Dr Goldsworthy said.

"Then their private lives are played out in court."

During the 21-day trial Baden-Clay made much of Allison's struggle with depression and tearfully admitted to multiple infidelities.

He said he hadn't been intimate with his wife for years and "just wanted sex" from other women.

In 2008 he began an affair with employee Toni McHugh and they would meet for secret weeknight trysts.

On weekends however, the father-of-three played the family man.

This double life makes for great drama and front page news, Dr Goldsworthy said.

But what also captivated the public was the possibility Baden-Clay could get away with it.

"If there were no scratches on his face, the prosecutors could not have convicted him," he said.

"The case would have been fairly weak circumstantially without the scratches."

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