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Accused Qld murderer in 'row' with victim

A cash-strapped nephew of a wealthy Queensland man was agitated amid a money-fuelled family row two days before his uncle disappeared 20 years ago, a court had been told.

Gerhard Wagner, 61, was last seen on January 7, 1999 after working on his beloved 42-foot yacht at a Brisbane marina.

He had a dinner date that night and plans to sail around the world.

He didn't turn up for the dinner and his body has not been found.

His nephew, Robert James Wagner, 57, is accused of murdering Gerhard Wagner in the garage at his Brisbane home.

He denies it.

However, a witness, who can't be identified for legal reasons, told the court Wagner confessed to him that he murdered his uncle over money using an axe, a hammer and a knife.

He said Wagner told him he "chopped up" his uncle in the garage before dumping parts into a Brisbane river and at the Glass House Mountains National Park, north of Brisbane.

The court has heard Wagner owed his uncle $300,000 and was both a beneficiary in his will and an executor.

On Thursday, Gerhard Wagner's sister-in-law told the Brisbane Supreme Court her nephew was in an agitated state two days before his uncle disappeared.

A family row over money had broken out between Robert Wagner and his uncles.

"(He) said to me 'they make me sick, or Peter and Gerhard make me sick'," Glenda Wagner said.

Wagner just wanted an invoice - which was at the centre of the row - and refused to come inside, she said.

More than a week later and with concern growing for the now-missing Gerhard Wagner, Glenda Wagner again spotted her nephew as he arrived in his car at a Brisbane police station.

"It had a lot of scratches on it, on the back ... all of the seats were down in the car," she said.

"I took particular notice that the car had scratches on it" because Wagner was "always so particular about his things".

She said Gerhard Wagner had treated his nephew like a son.

On Wednesday, the missing man's brother said ownership of Gerhard Wagner's beloved boat had been transferred into Wagner's name for "safe-keeping" before he disappeared.

"He broke up with his girlfriend and he thought she might claim the boat because she helped him (paint it)," Paul Wagner said.

"He didn't want to lose any part of the boat (so) he put it in Robert's name."

The court has heard that despite their close relationship, Wagner and his uncle used to often argue about financial matters.

The trial continues on Friday.

© AAP 2019