Murder victim Dwayne Robert 'Doc' Davies allegedly paid protection money to an outlaw motorcycle gang in order to continue operating his tattoo studio, Ink Addiction, in Risdon Vale, the Supreme Court in Hobart heard.
Tattooist and colleague of Mr Davies Andrew Gist said he heard Mr Davies paid to keep the store operating and when he ran into financial difficulties could no longer make the payments.
Mr Davies' wife Margaret Anne Otto is co-accused with his close friend Bradley Scott Purkiss for his murder in 2017.
The Crown alleged Mr Purkiss killed Mr Davies as part of an agreement with Ms Otto.
Mr Gist told the court Mr Davies got his nickname, 'Doc', due to his skills regarding covering up or fixing tattoos.
In the months before Mr Davies' death, an unknown perpetrator wrote graffiti on his studio saying "Dwayne Doc Davies is a drug dealing dog."
Mr Davies allegedly suffered from chronic pain and in the two years prior to his disappearance often skipped work.
"He was always up and down like a yo-yo," Mr Gist said.
"He always told me had bipolar."
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The Crown alleged Ms Otto became resentful towards Mr Davies due to his financial difficulties and undiagnosed mental health issues.
She allegedly told her employer it would be easier if her husband was dead in the six months before his death.
Paul Purdon, Ms Otto's former employer and owner of P&J Sheds, also known as The One Stop Shed Stop, said Ms Otto said something to that meaning, even if those were not the exact words.
"I understood Marg's meaning - that it would be better that he wasn't there," Mr Purdon said.
Mr Purkiss visited Ms Otto at her workplace in Mornington the day after Mr Davies went missing.
After the disappearance of Mr Davies she never returned to work.
Mr Purdon said he had a close professional relationship with the accused.
He said Ms Otto was a model team member and a support for others.
"She always had a smile on her face despite the things that were going on at home," Mr Purdon said.
Jeremy Sayers, a tattooist who worked for Mr Davies, saw the victim at work on the day he went missing.
Mr Sayers said he overheard Mr Purkiss and Mr Davies discuss plans to view Harley Davidson motorcycles at Mr Purkiss' property that evening.
Mr Sayers said Mr Purkiss, who often visited the studio, told him he was "feeling a bit used," by Mr Davies who allegedly owed him money for helping with renovations.
The trial before Chief Justice Blow will continue in the Supreme Court on Thursday.
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