A former Sydney restaurateur accused of soliciting his brother-in-law's murder has told a jury the slain doctor was "a pathetic gambler" who was involved with triads.
"Quite often he would come to us and let us know his life was in danger," Mark Caleo said under cross-examination in the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The 55-year-old has pleaded not guilty to soliciting the murder of Dr Michael Chye, who was shot in the head as he drove into his Sydney home in October 1989.
He also denies soliciting the murder of his wife, Rita Caleo, who was stabbed 23 times in the middle of the night in August 1990 at their Double Bay townhouse.
Alani Afu, 51, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Caleo.
Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC alleges Caleo felt he was being ripped off by the siblings.
Under questioning by Ms Cunneen, Caleo agreed he emailed relatives last year saying Dr Chye was a pathetic gambler who had many debts and enemies.
Dr Chye had been under financial pressure and had told him he had Asian connections, while his wife told him about the gambling and debts, Caleo said.
She also told him "he treated criminals at the surgery for cash and he did have enemies".
Although he said "I don't want to go down this path" in evidence, Caleo told the prosecutor his wife said her brother "was involved with the triads".
Ms Cunneen asked whether he was saying that about "a boy who went to Chatswood High School in the '70s and studied medicine here".
"Yes," Caleo replied.
Dr Chye would go to them quite often saying his life was in danger, he said.
The first time was in 1987 "when he got to know we had a decent cash flow".
Between then and 1989, the couple lent him cash, in the order of $5000, on six to 10 occasions.
Caleo denied threatening his brother-in-law over a property sale by saying "if you keep pressing you will end up dead".
He also denied boasting to his second wife, Yuko Okamoto, that he had paid a hitman $50,000 to kill Dr Chye.
Referring to Ms Okamato's evidence, Ms Cunneen suggested Caleo made the boast "in quite a heroic fashion", saying the hitman had been a professional, a good shot and moved quickly.
"That is total fiction, absolute fiction," he said.
Their relationship had ended acrimoniously, he added.
The trial continues.