Baden-Clay mistress’ new identity half a world away
GERARD Baden-Clay's mistress has travelled 12,000km to finally get out of his murderous shadow, starting a new life and identity.
The Sunday Mail can reveal Toni McHugh, 48, has left Australia and teaches in the United Arab Emirates after doing volunteer work in Indonesia, while using a new name.
Unwittingly thrown into the spotlight as the lover of married real estate agent Baden-Clay, who was convicted of murdering his wife Allison, Ms McHugh has taken steps to start afresh.
While Ms McHugh worked alongside Baden-Clay in real estate in Brisbane, she has since gone back to her roots and is teaching art to children at an international school.
Ms McHugh refused to comment to The Sunday Mail, other than requesting privacy about her new name and employer while explaining the reasons for her name change.
"This has been done for my safety and to allow some level of anonymity on a daily basis," she said.
The school, a large walled complex with more than 1000 students and 100 teachers, has a high level of security with multiple checkpoints.
Wealthy families attend the school, dropping children off in expensive Bentleys with one- or two-digit number plates - a sign of status in the United Arab Emirates.
Ms McHugh teaches in a modern, open-plan room.
The Sunday Mail has been told she "seems like any other normal person" in the United Arab Emirates and doesn't wear any head or face coverings, as they're not required.
"She looks put together and in her element teaching kids," a source said.
"I wouldn't look twice at her if I didn't know anything about her, she just looks like an ordinary expat teacher.
"A little reason of why she ended up here is probably because she faded into the general background of expat teachers."
Known to those in her new life under her new identity, she has kept a low profile and uses at least two names on social media accounts.
Also using the name "Bridget Jones" online, she keeps in touch with friends, many of whom are in the education sector.
Baden-Clay was convicted in 2014 of the murder of his wife Allison, who disappeared from the couple's Brookfield home in April 2012.
Her body was found 10 days later under the Kholo Creek bridge at Anstead.
Baden-Clay was sentenced to life in jail with a non-parole period of 15 years.
The Court of Appeal downgraded the conviction to manslaughter but the High Court later reinstated the murder conviction.
Baden-Clay will be locked away until at least 2027.
Ms McHugh all but disappeared after giving evidence at Baden-Clay's murder trial, where she was forced to detail her affair.
She told the court Baden-Clay wasn't disrespectful to his wife but described the affair as "disrespectful".
Ms McHugh later appeared in paid interviews and said one day she was living a "very normal life and then the next day I'm exposed to huge media attention, police interest".
"It was a huge emotional drain on me," she told Channel 9.
But she moved away and even did volunteer work as a teacher in Bali working with disadvantaged children in 2015 at a time when Baden-Clay was appealing in court.
Pictured smiling with children, she appears happy and relaxed in photos.
The volunteer program has about 500 children attending English classes each week.
At one point in 2016 she even lived in a villa overlooking rice paddies in Bali's picturesque Ubud in a scene reminiscent of the book and movie Eat, Pray, Love.
In a rental advertisement, the property was advertised as "Dreamy tranquillity, truly Ubud in Ubud". When she left, she advertised the property for the owner online, writing: "You'll love watching the sunset and the return of the Heron birds each evening."
Ms McHugh was hired by Baden-Clay at his Century 21 Westside real estate office in 2007 and began a relationship with him the following year. In court Ms McHugh described the relationship as a "rollercoaster".
She split from her partner - with whom she had two sons - within months of the affair starting, but Baden-Clay did not.
Allison found out about the affair through a school friend in 2011 and demanded Ms McHugh leave the business.
The affair briefly stopped, but had begun again when Baden-Clay reported his wife missing on April 20 in 2012.
The night before, Ms McHugh had a furious conversation with Baden-Clay and "lost it" when she realised she would be attending the same real estate conference as Allison. She demanded he tell his wife they would both be at the conference.
During the police investigation, Ms McHugh would find out that Baden-Clay had been sleeping with other women as well. After Baden-Clay's conviction, Ms McHugh said felt she had been hiding from the public for two years during the process.
"People that don't know me, wouldn't know me if they fell over me in the street, are making assumptions and suggestions of my personality, my intentions, my judgment, my involvement," she said at the time to Channel 9.
When asked if it would be nice to re-live her life she simply responded: "Yes."
She also likened herself to "Australia's Monica Lewinsky" in another paid interview with Women's Weekly, and claimed to be writing a book.