SYDNEY (AFP) - A man kept his wife's body in a drum container at the family home for 23 years after pretending she had run off with another man, Australian prosecutors said Thursday.
Frederick William Boyle, 58, of the Melbourne suburb of Carrum Downs, faces a charge of murder, which he denies.
Boyle is alleged to have shot his wife Edwina Boyle in the head, dismembered her, and hidden her body.
"He put her body in a 44-gallon drum and kept it for 20 years," prosecutor Gavin Silbert told the Victorian Supreme Court on the first day of the trial.
Edwina Boyle disappeared in October 1983, Silbert told the court, and her husband claimed at the time she had run off with a truck driver called Ray.
He did not report her missing and informed relatives in England not to be surprised if they did not hear from her at Christmas that year.
But in 2006, while cleaning up, his son-in-law Michael Hegarty decided to cut open the drum, which had been kept at the family home for many years.
Prosecutors said he had asked for 14 years what was in the drum and had been told it contained glue for carpet laying.
Silbert said the son-in-law found a bag containing a skull, a leg bone and part of a pelvis inside. The bones were later identified as those of Edwina Boyle, and a post-mortem showed she died of a bullet wound to the head.
The prosecution said Boyle's mistress, Virginia Gissara, moved into the family home the day after his wife disappeared.
Defence lawyer Jane Dixon said her client did not dispute that he had falsely claimed his wife left him, nor that she was murdered, only that he was not the one who killed her.
Boyle had no motive to kill her, whereas others "may have had an opportunity to do so," Dixon told the court.
The couple married in 1972 and migrated from Britain later that year. They had two daughters, the court heard.
The trial continues.