A man accused of murdering his teenage wife and burying her in a shallow grave was financially motivated to later uncover her body so it would be found, a Sydney jury has been told.
Steve Frank Fesus could not get a pension while his wife was missing but was approved for one after her body was found, crown prosecutor Greg Smith SC said in the NSW Supreme Court.
Fesus, 46, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Jodie Fesus, 18, between 9pm on August 11 and 5 am on August 12, 1997 at their Shellharbour home, before burying her body in a shallow grave at Seven Mile Beach, near Gerroa.
The Crown alleges their relationship had deteriorated, Fesus was unhappy and resentful, and strangled her during an argument.
Continuing his opening address to the jury on Tuesday, Mr Smith said Fesus was seen in the Gerroa area on the September 12 weekend.
"The Crown says the accused attended the beach to uncover the body so it would be discovered," he said.
About 6pm on September 14, an anonymous male rang police from a public phone giving directions to locate human remains at Gerroa.
Police found a shallow grave that had been partially uncovered and the body was exhumed on September 15.
On that day Fesus went to the Shellharbour social security office saying his missing wife had been found dead, which led to him being approved for a pension, Mr Smith said.
"At the time he attended and said his wife was deceased, the body was still being exhumed and had not been examined or formally identified."
Fesus asked his neighbour if there would be fingerprints on a strangled person and "if I rolled over in my sleep and placed my hands on Jodie's neck would there be fingerprints?".
Mr Smith said Fesus made admisisons to an undercover police officer in August 2013 that he had killed his wife and buried her body.
But the defence says this was a "false confession" and Fesus told police this immediately after his arrest, his barrister Keith Chapple SC told the jury.
"Steve Fesus did not kill his wife, that is his case," he said.
"He did not bury her and he did not expose her body."
On occasions, Fesus had argued with his wife and been given ultimatums.
"But as at August 11, 1997, in his mind the marriage was not fractured, the marriage was not broken," Mr Chapple said.
The trial is continuing.