The father of James Cleghorn has wiped away tears as he watched the jury convict Wollongong man Bryce Cliff of murdering his 16-year-old son.
After more than two weeks of evidence, the jury spent about three hours deliberating in the Wagga Supreme Court on Monday.
The Wagga boy was stabbed about 30 times, including once in the heart at his Acacia Street home on June 7, 2016.
Cliff, 30, pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.
About 20 of the defence wounds were to his hands and fingers, with several bruises also found on his body.
James’ father Glenn Cleghorn, while addressing the media on Monday, said the trial had taken a huge toll on the family.
“It’s drained it right out of me because I just couldn’t believe that anything could happen to anybody like that – it was so brutal,” he said.
“I’m glad that little piece of it is over but I just can’t get out of my head the way he was murdered.
“He was stabbed and bashed – I hope he (Cliff) gets 25 years and we don’t see him again.”
Mr Cleghorn said he was relieved justice had prevailed for his “great boy”.
“He’s a loss to our family, the community and everybody that knew him,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the sentencing and just getting on with it ourselves.
“It’s closure as far as Bryce Cliff is concerned but it won’t be closure as far as James is concerned.”
James’ mother Nongnuch Boonchu-Cleghorn thanked the media and the community for all their support.
“I miss him every single day,” she said.
“I was really happy for James, I hope James is up there feeling happy about this (the guilty verdict).”
Neighbor Wade Garland said everyone was suffering and drug use was not an excuse for the “brutal murder”.
“There’s no excuse for the brutal murder of an innocent child and for the community to be robbed,” he said.
“Everyone is suffering from this animal.”
Crown prosecutor Max Pincott said the jury had come to their decision based on all of the evidence at hand.
“That’s all I can say – I just act on behalf of the community,” he said.
Cliff is expected to be sentenced in May.
AS THE TRIAL HAPPENED
February 7 – day one
A NEIGHBOUR of a Kooringal High School student stabbed to death reported a sound of “absolute terror” moments before seeing the teenager and his alleged murderer, a court has heard.
Crown prosecutor Max Pincott said the teenager’s neighbour Wade Garland, who lived beneath James’s Acacia Street home, heard the “distinct sound of a human being in absolute distress” on the night of the incident.
February 9 – day three
A witness has recalled a Kooringal High School student revealing he was going to be killed, just moments before he was stabbed to death.
Rushing outside, Mr Garland recalled the moment he “f***en legged it”, before seeing James Cleghorn flit past him, fleeing his upstairs unit.
“I was 'bout to grab a hold of him and he slipped out of my hands saying, 'he's going to kill me’,” Mr Garland said.
February 12 – day four
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.
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.
February 14 – day six
The father of Kooringal High School student James Cleghorn has revealed the man accused of murdering his son was “part of the family”.
“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.
February 15 – day seven
The mother of Kooringal High School student James Cleghorn has broken down in tears while recalling the night of her son’s alleged murder.
The court heard James wasn’t feeling well and had stayed home from school the day he was allegedly stabbed to death.
Blood spatter analyst Sergeant Kristan Cox told the court “a good deal” of the incident had occurred in the dining and kitchen area at the Acacia Street home.
February 16 – day eight
The half-sister of James Cleghorn has given evidence that the man accused of murdering the Kooringal High School student continued to contact her despite blocking him on Facebook.
The pair dated for more than six years before the relationship ended in 2013 and despite creating a new profile, Cliff had continued to send her Facebook messages.
The court heard Cliff took a train from Moss Vale and arrived in Wagga about 2pm that day.
CCTV captured Cliff wandering around Kooringal Mall and the Marketplace, before he was picked up by a taxi.
February 19 – day nine
A man accused of murdering a Kooringal High School student has told the court about the moment he picked up a knife in “panic” after “trying to calm himself”.
In his testimony, Cliff admitted that on the day in question he struck James to the face, causing him to fall on the ground.
February 22 – day 12
A Crown prosecutor has described the alleged murder of a 16-year-old Kooringal High School student in one chilling final word – “brutal”.
In the final words the jury heard from the Crown on Thursday, Max Pincott reminded the court of James’ final message before he was stabbed about 30 times.
James’ school friend had told him he would not be coming over to play games that afternoon, to which he replied “brutal”.
“He couldn’t possibly have known that very word would describe the attack that ended his life – within the next hour,” Mr Pincott said.
February 23 – day 13
A jury is set to start deliberating in the Wagga Supreme Court trial against Bryce Cliff, who is accused of murdering a 16-year-old Kooringal High School student.
Judge Stephen Campbell told the jury to take the weekend to refresh before starting to consider the case on Monday.