Police had not yet formally identified the woman found in a shallow beachside grave near Gerroa when Steven Fesus allegedly called the morgue asking if he could see his wife Jodie’s body.
Among the strange questions he allegedly asked were whether the deceased had been strangled and, if he accidentally rolled on top of his wife in bed, would his fingerprints be on her neck.
Explosive details of the 17-year police investigation into Ms Fesus’s murder emerged in the Supreme Court yesterday when Mr Fesus applied for bail on murder charges.
Ms Fesus’s body was found a month after she disappeared from her home on the South Coast in 1997 but it wasn’t until July this year that detectives arrested Mr Fesus at a hotel in The Rocks, just one week after their daughter Kimberley, 18, had made a public appeal for information.
The court was given a glimpse into how police built a case against Mr Fesus after two decades, which included an inconclusive inquest and numerous dead ends.
It was revealed that an alleged confession was the final piece of the puzzle.
Justice Robert Allan Hulme noted from court documents that there was also a strong ‘‘circumstantial case’’ to go with the alleged confession, including Mr Fesus’s remarks to the morgue.
However Mr Fesus’s lawyer, Dennis Miralis, said these comments had been taken out of context and were the types of questions ‘‘one would ordinarily ask if one’s partner had been found deceased about the cause of death’’.
He was adamant the case against his client was weak and said the alleged confession would be a point of contention.
Police searches, including a search for vegetation or sand underneath Mr Fesus’s car that would match the grave site, had found ‘‘no physical evidence whatsoever,’’ Mr Miralis said.
He said Mr Fesus had no history of violence towards his wife or any other woman.
Since his wife’s death, Mr Fesus has raised their two children, lived in the same area, worked long hours as a security guard and assisted police by taking part in more than 15 interviews, including one in 2000 that went for 16 hours.
‘‘To suggest this happened in some sort of vacuum on a whim ... runs counter to what we know about Mr Fesus,’’ Mr Miralis said.
‘‘There is nothing about his conduct or character to suggest he is a person who is violent.’’
Daughter Kimberley and son Dylan, 17, wrote letters to the court in support of their father, saying they did not believe he killed their mother.
After Mr Miralis’ impassioned, 40-minute long argument for bail, Justice Hulme said he would have to go through dozens of pages of transcripts and could not make a determination until October 4.