Bryce Cliff stands trial in Wagga Supreme Court for allegedly murdering James Cleghorn in 2016

Wagga Courthouse
Wagga Courthouse

A witness has revealed he grabbed a knife to defend himself after a mysterious man appeared in his backyard, after a Kooringal High School student was stabbed to death. 

Pieces of the puzzle continue to come together in the case with 10 more witnesses called during day six of the Wagga Supreme Court case against Bryce Cliff on Monday. 

Cliff, of Wollongong, is accused of murdering James Cleghorn, 16, at his family’s Acacia Street home on June 7, 2016.

The 30-year-old has pleaded not guilty to murder, instead indicating he wished to instead plead guilty to manslaughter, which was not accepted by the prosecution.   

It is alleged the teenager was stabbed about 30 times, including once in the heart, which had killed him.

The court heard Cliff had jumped over fences after the alleged stabbing, dropping various items along the way. 

One witness, Laura Burns, told the court she spotted a large black backpack toward the middle of the road on her way home from dinner that night. 

Two witnesses have recalled a man, who police allege was Cliff, appear in their Kooringal backyards. 

Kristy Jade was at home with her partner when she heard her two dogs barking about 8pm. Ms Jade went outside to investigate where she was confronted by a man who came “staggering” toward her in the darkness. 

The court heard the man was hunched over with his hand across his stomach when he told the witness “I’ve been stabbed” before jumping the fence. 

Another witness, Fhane Cox, told the court he was scared after a man appeared in his backyard and told him he had been stabbed, grabbing a knife to defend himself. 

Wagga Senior Constable Gregory Tarbit, who was one of the first officers on the scene, told the court he was called after reports of a dead body. 

Crown prosecutor Max Pincott took Senior Constable Tarbit through his initial statement, where he stated he came across James’ neighbour, Wade Garland. 

“I heard him ranting, he appeared quite agitated but I heard him say words to the effect of ‘he’s dead – there’s a body in there’,” he said. 

Senior Constable Tarbit said he then approached the door of the unit, sighting what appeared to be blood on the handle before spotting a dead body laying on the floor inside. 

The trial will continue on Tuesday.