|Gerard Baden-Clay could pay high cost for self-preservation|
From the moment Gerard Baden-Clay killed his wife Allison on April 19, 2012 - accidentally, Queensland's highest court has now ruled - his focus was on just one thing: self-preservation.
His wife had vanished after going for a walk, he told the television cameras in the days after her disappearance, as he tearfully pleaded for her return.
In truth, he knew exactly where she was.
Under the Kholo Creek bridge, 13 kilometres from their home in Brisbane's affluent west, where, under the cover of darkness on April 19, he drove her lifeless body and dumped it on the creek bed.
The presence of Allison Baden-Clay's blood in the family Holden Captiva provided almost irrefutable proof that is what he did, while the scratches she left on his face as she fought him that night told investigators it was he who had killed her.
The foliage from their garden found in her hair told them he had done it at their Brookfield home.
The growing forensic evidence in the case overwhelmingly pointed to his guilt.
But Baden-Clay's focus never wavered. It was self-preservation above all else.
Rather than confess he accidentally killed Allison after kayakers discovered her body on the creek bank, 10 days after she disappeared, he stood beside their three daughters at her funeral and played the grieving husband.
He protested his innocence when, six weeks later, detectives charged him with her murder and continued his protestations through his subsequent committal hearing and trial.
When Baden-Clay stood before a jury at his murder trial in 2014, he swore, under oath, he did not kill his wife.
Despite the physical evidence pointing to his guilt, the cocky prestige real estate agent who prided himself on his lineage to Scouts founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell had no doubt at the end of it all, he would be a free man.
So, it was a violently shaking Baden-Clay who sat in the Supreme Court dock after his trial jury returned their guilty verdict in 2014 and listened as Justice John Byrne sentenced him to life in jail.
His plan had failed. With a non-parole period of 15 years set, he was facing at least the next 13 years behind bars.
It was a time to try a change of tactic.
Just more than a year later, in the Queensland Court of Appeal, his lawyers publicly conceded for the first time that perhaps their client did kill his wife. Accidentally.
Defence counsel Michael Copley, QC, argued there was sufficient evidence available to conclude Allison died unlawfully but not to thrust it into the category of murder, which indicates some degree of intent.
"There was sufficient evidence available ... that he had caused the death and done so unlawfully," Mr Copley said.
"What evidence was there that elevated the case from unlawful killing to intentional killing?"
Queensland's Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Michael Byrne, QC argued the extreme lengths Baden-Clay took to cover up his crime and the continual denials he was involved in his wife's death elevated it out of the realm of manslaughter and into that of murder.
In the end, however, appeal judges Chief Justice Catherine Holmes, Justice Hugh Fraser and Justice Robert Gotterson had no choice but to agree with the defence argument.
While there was sufficient evidence to point to the now 44-year-old killing his wife of 15 years, the evidence did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that he had intended to do so.
They found the murder conviction was an "unreasonable verdict".
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