A former Sydney restaurateur has told a jury he had nothing to do with the stabbing murder of his wife or the shooting murder of his brother-in-law almost three decades ago.
Mark Caleo denied evidence given by the crown's key witness, his former employee Anthony Stambolis, saying he never particularly liked him and sacked him after he crashed the business car.
The 55-year-old was giving evidence on Tuesday at his NSW Supreme Court trial where he's pleaded not guilty to soliciting the murder of Dr Michael Chye after a real estate deal went wrong.
He was shot dead as he drove into his Woollahra home in October 1989.
Caleo also denies soliciting the murder of Rita Caleo, who was stabbed 23 times in their Double Bay townhouse in August 1990.
Alani Afu, 50, has pleaded not guilty to murdering her.
Mr Stambolis has testified that Caleo told him to offer $10,000 to find someone to kill his wife, to make it look like a "robbery gone wrong" and that he called Dr Chye "the faggot".
He said his boss used to take him for drives in his personal car and he chauffeured Caleo and his lover Janice Yap around.
But Caleo told the jury Mr Stambolis "has never been in my Mercedes Benz", that he did not have an affair with Ms Yap and did not refer to his brother-in-law as a "faggot".
"I did not discuss my personal business with my staff," he said.
His lawyer Grant Brady SC asked about a claim he abused his wife in front of staff.
"I had the highest respect for Rita and I would never have done that behind closed doors, let alone in front of staff," he replied.
He said he had no involvement in the murders.
On the day his wife died, they lunched together before she left to pick up some jewellery from an order involving up to $20,000 cash in Chinatown, while he went to work at their Brighton Le Sands restaurant.
She had about 80 to 100 pieces of jewellery and she usually wore "too much" seven days a week.
He denied unlocking the doors from his wife's bedroom to a balcony to allow someone to come in, when he popped home in the afternoon to have a shower.
Late that night, police answered his phone call to the home leading him to rush there.
When told of her death, "I was in a state of shock", numb and in a mess.
He denied telling his second wife he had been involved in both deaths, saying their break-up had been acrimonious.
Caleo said he initially told his third wife that Rita had died of cancer, but told her the truth when they started going out.
"I said that somebody entered the premises and I believed we were being robbed," he said.
"Rita might have confronted these people at some stage and they took her life."
The trial continues.