The husband of Melbourne woman Karen Ristevski made up facts to cover up her disappearance in mid 2016, a court has heard.
Ms Ristevski went missing in June 2016, and her body was found in a nature park near Macedon, north-west of Melbourne, eight months later.
Her husband, 54-year-old Borce Ristevski, was charged with her murder, and is facing a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.
Prosecutors alleged Mr Ristevski murdered his wife at the couple’s Avondale Heights home on June 29, 2016 between 8.58am — after Ms Rivstevski last accessed her computer — and 10.43am, when both their mobile phones were detected leaving the area.
The court heard the pair had quarrelled that morning over the finances of their clothing business at the Watergardens shopping centre and that Mr Ristevski told police she had stormed off.
Mr Ristevski initially told police he had worked from home until that afternoon.
But the court heard he changed his statement several times, admitting he had driven her Mercedes-Benz coupe that day to fill it up with petrol but after driving it towards the Calder Freeway, he remembered the fuel gauge was “stuffed”.
Mercedes-Benz technicians confirmed an intermittent fault, the court was told, but police determined there would have been no need to refuel on that day because Mr Ristevski had filled the car three days before.
Police alleged he told them the story to attempt to explain CCTV vision they later found showing the car driving towards the Calder Freeway.
“The accused deliberately excluded and withheld certain information and fabricated facts to distance himself from the crime,” prosecutor Matt Fisher told the hearing.
Data from numerous mobile communications towers determined that Ms Rivstevski’s mobile phone was on until about 11.40am.
Mr Fisher said the investigation of communications data concluded “the deceased and her mobile telephone were in the car the accused was driving”.
Phone data revealed Borce Ristevski’s phone was switched off for 102 minutes.
The court heard the route he took was in line with the path police alleged he would have taken to Macedon Regional Park, where two brothers doing work in the park discovered a skull and a foot between two tree trunks.
There was a period of 27 hours when Borce Ristevski did not try to contact his missing wife, the court heard.
Friends and family heard of her disappearance when their daughter Sarah made a post on social media.
Mr Fisher told the court the couple had “very serious” financial problems at the time Mr Ristevski allegedly killed his wife.
Ms Ristevski “was stressed about the financial situation of the business,” he said.
The court heard the couple had $317,000 in personal loans, $82,000 in credit card debt as well as a mortgage on their home of $750,000.
The couple’s business had been in trouble for some time and in February 2016 they had closed a store in Broadmeadows.
The court heard that after Ms Ristevski went missing, Mr Ristevski told police that he would sometimes fight with his wife about the financial state of their business, but he denied the fights got physical.
The couple’s daughter, Sarah, told police that her mother was worried about money, and the couple would yell and scream at each other.
The prosecution has flagged that 17 witnesses will give evidence during the committal hearing, which is expected to last for two weeks.
The hearing before Magistrate Suzanne Cameron continues.