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The reclusive side of a grieving husband

Date

Rory Callinan and Bridie Jabour

Gerard Baden-Clay is comforted by friends and family at the funeral of his slain wife, Allison, at St Paul's Anglican Church, Ipswich on May 11.

Gerard Baden-Clay is comforted by friends and family at the funeral of his slain wife, Allison, at St Paul's Anglican Church, Ipswich on May 11. Photo: Michelle Smith

As detectives ramp up their hunt for the killer of Brisbane mother Allison Baden-Clay, her husband Gerard has hired a top criminal lawyer,  bunkered down in his parents home and is yet to make a plea to help catch her killer.

The low profile stance represents a dramatic turnaround for the prominent real estate agent and skilled networker who blogged about his life, presided over the local chamber of commerce, was touted as a potential political candidate and occupied the vice-president’s role at the local school’s P & C.

Since his wife disappeared from their rented home in leafy Brookfield one of Brisbane’s most affluent western suburbs, the accountant turned property agent has become a recluse, growing a beard and leaving it up to his wife’s parents to make a public plea to catch the killer because, he says, he is concentrating on caring for his three daughters.

The order of service for Allison Baden-Clay's funeral. brisbanetimes.com.au has pixellated the children's faces to protect their identity.

The order of service for Allison Baden-Clay's funeral. brisbanetimes.com.au has pixellated the children's faces to protect their identity.

So far his only in person public statement has been a few brief sentences about his concentrating on caring for his daughters and being concerned for his wife's wellbeing. The interview occurred after he was ambushed by a television crew eight days before her body was found dumped in a lonely overgrown creek bed.

He has since left media liaison to his lawyer, Darren Mahoney, who issued a statement saying the hiring of counsel was prudent given the intense public interest in the case.

And he has retreated to the home of his colourful father Nigel Baden-Clay who was listed on the family real estate business website as having been a big-game hunter, conservationist, and "marriage enhancement facilitator’" and drives a car with the number plates "bwana" - a term from the African language swahili meaning boss.

Mourners gather outside St Paul's Anglican Church where Allison Baden-Clay's funeral is taking place.

Mourners gather outside St Paul's Anglican Church where Allison Baden-Clay's funeral is taking place. Photo: Michelle Smith

Yesterday as his wife’s funeral took place before a packed church the grieving husband and father did not formally address mourners, leaving his sister-in-law Vanessa Fowler to vow for her sister’s sake that "‘we will bring you justice and you deserve nothing less".

Some insights into his life with his wife can be found in a series of blog posts the Herald located on his business website from his times at work and with Allison in 2008.

The posts reveal a normal man leading a busy life, someone keen to succeed while both enjoying family life and wrestling with the pressures of being a good businessman and father and husband.

In one he notes how ‘‘these aren’t easy times to be a father’’.

"Not so long ago a father was a success if he could put a roof over his family’s head. Now it takes a roof, deck, home theatre, teen retreat and pool and that’s just the holiday house,’’ he writes.

‘‘Just as the world seems to be spinning fater than ever before, requiring us to work harder and for longer, not always comprehending why or what for fathers are also trying to make better use of family time. To engage with their children to emphasise with their wife and partner. To not only lead but to inspire comfort and understand.’’

In another post he tells how Allison "had turned the big four-0" earlier this year and to mark the occassion she and her best friend had ‘‘taken a week off a health spa’’ leaving the three children with him.

"Whilst she has been enjoying the rest and quitetude, I have been trying to manage the house and transport my three girls to all their activities - and I am knackered. It’s a bit of a cliche that most men have no idea how hard to run a houshold,’’ he says.

"I’ve been trying to squeeze in some work and assistance with running this business - look out for two new properties coming onto the market this week and the succesful sales from last weekend too."

He said it gave him renewed respect for all the hard work that goes into being a "homemaker".

‘‘I’ll certainly be more understanding in the future when I come home from work and find that dinner isn’t on the table and my foot-spa pre-warmed,’’ he writes.

Certainly the couple were facing new challenges in 2008 relocating the family real estate firm to more expensive premises in a bid to ramp up the business.

That same year a house they owned at the Gold Coast through their company Wots World of Top Step was listed as having been mortgaged and late last year they took out a $300,000 mortgage through another family company.

Had things become too difficult the couple could always have turned to Mr Baden-Clay senior who worked alongside the pair in the real estate business and who as a marriage enhancement facilitator, had been intimately involved with helping couples through his directorship of the Anglican Marriage Encounter Australia Ltd - a now defunct program which organised couples to spend a weekend where they learned to communicate again and strengthen their marriages through talking to counsellors.

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