Jeffrey Ryan.
Jeffrey Ryan.

Murder victim feared wife

A FORMER Casino grazier who was gunned down on his Tamworth property feared his estranged wife was “mad” and would clean him out, a jury has heard.

On the second day of the NSW Supreme Court trial of Jeffrey Ryan’s second wife, Helen Ryan, 51, and her mother, Coralie Coulter, 71, Mr Ryan’s son Ben said his father told him his estranged wife Helen was “abusing, staring and yelling” at him and he did not want to leave the property until they were divorced.

“I am worried I will get cleaned out,” Mr Ryan allegedly told his son when he asked his father to visit him.

The women have pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Ryan, 48, who was shot dead in October, 2009, at the Ryans’ $1 million property at Duri, near Tamworth, in northern NSW.

Helen Ryan’s sister, Ganene Gaye Coulter, from Grafton, has already been sentenced for her role in the “joint criminal enterprise”, having pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder. She is due to give evidence at the trial.

The Crown alleges Helen Ryan organised a $30,000 contract killing of her husband, while her mother provided $10,000, knowing the money was a part-payment for the contract.

Ben Ryan told the jury in the 12 months before the killing, his father told him the marriage was not going well and he was “going to go for a divorce”.

“Dad said to me that it was not because he did not love her, but because he was not in love with her any more,” Ben Ryan said.

He said his father told him of being abused and threatened by his wife.

In the months leading up to the shooting, Ben Ryan said his father told him “she worries me, she’s ... mad”.

After Mr Ryan’s death, Ben Ryan said he discovered his father had changed his will, to ensure his estate went entirely to his children. Nothing was to be left to Helen Ryan.

The trial is continuing before Justice Megan Latham.

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