A Brisbane man accused of murder purchased protective clothing including goggles, a mask, gloves and boots to "work with acids" a week after his uncle disappeared, a court has heard.

Robert James Wagner pleaded not guilty at the beginning of his Supreme Court trial in Brisbane to murdering his uncle Gerhard Wagner in January 1999.

The court heard neither his body or motorbike has ever been found, and that his death was financially motivated because he held significant assets.

Prosecutor Phil McCarthy said Robert Wagner was in a "precarious financial position" at the time of his uncle's disappearance.

He said an employee from a hardware store would give evidence about a customer who purchased protective clothing about a week later.

"The customer he was dealing with specifically indicated that he was working with acids and he was working with acids to clean a garage floor," Mr McCarthy said in his opening address.

"Together through this trial we will learn about the precarious financial position of the defendant at that time.



The prosecution told the jury it would hear evidence that Robert Wagner told a friend police had accused him of killing his uncle.

"The accusation made of him by the police service was that he had been accused of dismembering his uncle's body, of putting him in plastic bags, placed those plastic bags in hessian bags then disposed of his body in the Glasshouse Mountains," Mr McCarthy said.

Cold case detectives raided a property in the Brisbane suburb of The Gap in August 2014, charging Robert Wagner two months later.

The court heard changes were made to Gerhard Wagner's will two months before his disappearance, which gave Robert Wagner "complete control over his uncle's estate upon death".

"This is not a man who's just disappeared and walked off on his family and is wandering the earth somewhere else," Mr McCarthy said.

The Crown said after Gerhard Wagner's will was changed to make Robert Wagner the sole executor, the expected proceeds from the sale of his home was nominated to be paid into the account of Robert Wagner.

The jury heard Robert Wagner also sold his uncle's yacht under his mother's name and "disposed of the money within months".

The prosecution said Robert Wagner told police he owed $90,000 in debt to his uncle but he actually owed a significantly more.

Topics: law-crime-and-justice, crime, murder-and-manslaughter, courts-and-trials, brisbane-4000, qld, hemmant-4174, the-gap-4061, australia

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