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

Wagga Local Court
Wagga Local Court

The father of Kooringal High School student James Cleghorn has revealed the man accused of murdering his son was “part of the family”. 

More than 20 witnesses have now been called in the Wagga Supreme Court trial against Bryce Cliff, who is alleged to have murdered the 16-year-old teenager.

Cliff, of Wollongong, has pleaded not guilty to murder.

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

The court heard Cliff had dated James’ step-sister, Preem (also known as Proy) Paiboonbudsrakam, living together in Melbourne for a number of years. 

Father Glenn Cleghorn was called to the witness box on Wednesday, revealing the family’s history with the accused. 

The court heard the Cleghorn family had moved to Wagga in 2009, when they purchased their Acacia Street home. 

Mr Cleghorn told the court he hadn’t spoken to Cliff for about two years and had last seen him when purchasing his Holden Commodore in 2014. 

“Your two boys, Cliff got along fine with both of them?” Crown prosecutor Max Pincott said. 

“That’s correct,” Mr Cleghorn said. 

“They never had any arguments?” Mr Pincott said. 

“That’s correct,” Mr Cleghorn said. 

“You said he was like a brother to them?” Mr Pincott said. 

“Yes, he was like part of the family,” Mr Cleghorn said. 

Judge Stephen Campbell told Mr Cleghorn he was sorry for his loss as he stepped down from the stand. 

Dr Allan Cala, who performed James’ autopsy, told the court there were 47 separate injuries found on James’ body. 

The jury viewed more than 100 photos of James’ body as Dr Cala told the court the wound that had resulted in his death was consistent with one caused by a “knife with one cutting edge” into the chest. 

“This wound into the heart mainly went through soft tissue but it did also slide through the rib,” he said. 

“It is difficult to be certain about this but I think it’s moderate or possibly severe force that could’ve caused this injury.” 

Dr Cala went on to describe several injuries to James’ hands, which he classified as “defense injuries”. 

Kooringal resident and nurse Belinda Schreiver also took the stand, recalling the moment Cliff appeared in her backyard, shortly before his arrest on June 7, 2016. 

Ms Schreiver said Cliff had told her he had been in a car accident as she called triple-0, fearing he had suffered a collapsed lung. 

Ms Schreiver then told the court Cliff had said his name was “Josh McIntyre or Maceeney”. 

During cross-examination, defence counsel Eric Wilson told Ms Schreiver there was no mention of that name in her statement to police. 

“If you go to paragraph six there’s no mention of his name, is that something you’ve added in the notes you’ve made in the past two days?” Mr Wilson said. 

“I thought I had that in the statement but obviously I didn’t,” Ms Schreiver said. 

“I’m going to suggest to you that he didn’t say that name,” Mr Wilson said. 

“Well I don’t agree to that I’m sorry,” Ms Schreiver said. 

The trial will continue on Thursday.