Gerhard Wagner was last seen in January 1999.
Gerhard Wagner was last seen in January 1999.

Clairvoyant among witnesses in murder trial

A BRISBANE man murdered his wealthy uncle in a plan to benefit from his will and later admitted he "knocked him off", a court has been told.

Robert James Wagner also allegedly told a friend in graphic detail that police accused him of dismembering Gerhard Wagner and disposing of the body parts in the Glasshouse Mountains, but a jury has heard investigators never made such a claim.

Alleged murder victim Gerhard Wagner.
Alleged murder victim Gerhard Wagner.

Wagner, 56, yesterday pleaded not guilty in the ­Supreme Court in Brisbane to the cold-case murder of his uncle, 61, who has not been seen since January 7, 1999.

Prosecutor Phil McCarthy said Robert Wagner orchestrated an amendment to his uncle's will in late-1998 that gave him "complete control' in the event of the other man's death.

Gerhard Wagner had $195,000 in the bank and was preparing to retire and sail the world on his large yacht, which he owned along with property in sought-after suburbs Wooloowin and The Gap. He signed the amendment to the will, but Mr McCarthy said his brothers would give evidence that he often relied on the "trust of others to explain documents to him".

Mr McCarthy said Gerhard Wagner was last seen at his friend's workshop at Hemmant on January 7, 1999, and had promised his former partner Menchie Clune that he would meet her at the Breakfast Creek Hotel that night. He never showed.

Mr McCarthy said that on January 15, 1999, a man alleged to be Robert Wagner purchased gloves, a mask and protective boots at a local shop, with an employee recalling a conversation that he "was working with acids" to clean a garage floor.

It was also alleged that Robert Wagner confirmed to an acquaintance - an ex-police officer - that he "had knocked his uncle off".

The court was told he gave a detailed account to another friend of what he said was the police case against him, but no such allegations were ever made as there was no body.

"(Robert Wagner said) the accusation made of him by the police service was that he'd been accused of dismembering his uncle's body, of putting it in plastic bags, placing those plastic bags in hessian bags then disposing of the body in the Glasshouse Mountains," Mr McCarthy said. "That ­simply has never been an ­accusation made by the Queensland Police Service.

"The crown invites you to conclude that the detail of that allegation … reveals that Robert Wagner has peculiar knowledge of the circumstances of his uncle's death."

When the friend asked if it was true, Robert Wagner told him it was not.

Mr McCarthy said police searched the accused man's home in 2014 and found a 1999 diary, but did not initially seize it as evidence. When they returned weeks later, it was nowhere to be found. But Mr McCarthy said officers discovered a diary from 2000 which included the notation: "Is there anything in my statement which is suspicious?"

The court was told there would be evidence Robert Wagner was in a dire financial position when his uncle vanished. The amended will forgave debts he owed to his uncle, which he told police was about $80,000, but Mr McCarthy said it could have been as high as $300,000.

He sold his uncle's yacht for $95,000 in 2001 after advertising it under his mother's name. "The defendant disposed of that money within months," Mr McCarthy said.

The proceeds of the sale of the house in Wooloowin were put into a trust account.

The trial continues with more than 40 witnesses expected to give evidence.

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