FORMER civil servant Clive Holgate took the witness stand yesterday to describe his bizarre marriage to a Wan Chai hostess who vanished three years ago. The buildings surveyor said he only discovered his wife had purchased a flat with another man when he began rifling through her private papers in the hope of finding a clue to her whereabouts. Pauline Holgate, 40, vanished in January 1992. The 53-year-old government surveyor told the District Court he had not known his wife had a lover, or that they had bought a $500,000 property together. He only learned of his rival's existence when he stumbled across a document linking his wife to a Westerner named Nicholas Demuth. 'I was going through various personal items of my wife to see who I could get in touch with to see what had happened to her,' Holgate said. The papers concerned the purchase of a flat, the court heard. When defence lawyer Alexander King asked Holgate if he had had any knowledge of the property's existence, he replied: 'None at all.' The surveyor, who has pleaded not guilty to maintaining a standard of living beyond his official salary, claims he took some of the money from his missing wife's handbag. Pauline and Clive Holgate appeared to have had nothing in common except a child and an address. Mrs Holgate was rarely in the house when her husband returned from work and the surveyor said he woke up three or four mornings a week to discover his wife had not returned home. Asked how much time he spent with Mrs Holgate on weekends, Holgate replied: 'Hardly any. I was out on my boat. I don't know what Pauline was doing.' While Mrs Holgate kept the flat she shared with her lover a secret, she did tell her husband about another $600,000 flat she was buying. Holgate said he did not ask his wife where she had got the money to buy this flat. 'She didn't tell me and I didn't ask her,' he said. 'I didn't think it was anything to do with me.' When his wife demanded he act as guarantor for a $720,000 mortgage on this flat, Holgate also agreed, without asking why she was so desperate for cash. Mrs Holgate was an avid gambler. When she later sold the flat, she told her husband it was because 'she owed some people money'. From January 1989 to July 6, 1993, Holgate's money supply exceeded his identified sources of income by $1,661,782, prosecutor Bernard Ryan said. Clive Holgate met Pauline Sham Po-ling at a Wan Chai bar in the mid-1970s. They began living together in 1977. Five years later, she gave birth to a son, Michael. The couple married in 1984. The trial continues before Judge Surman.