The trial is underway at Coffs Harbour courthouse.
The trial is underway at Coffs Harbour courthouse.

Murder trial: accused had ‘crush’ on victim’s girlfriend

A MAN who stands accused of stabbing a 28-year-old Eatonsville man to death had harboured feelings for the victim's girlfriend, a court has heard.

South Grafton man Justin Shawn John Smith is on trial at Coffs Harbour Supreme Court after pleading not guilty to the January 2019 murder of Luke William Freeman.

A jury was today empanelled at the courthouse and a dark-haired Smith, dressed in black, entered the courtroom.

The court heard that it was on the night of January 4 at a Gardenia Way home in South Grafton that Smith allegedly stabbed Mr Freeman twice - once on the left side of the chest, and once on the right side of his stomach.

Mr Freeman died as result of complications from the stab wounds at John Hunter Hospital on January 6.

In an opening address, the prosecution said the accused had "held something of a torch" for Freeman's then 28-year-old partner, who the accused had known since she was 15 years old.

They said Smith had wanted "something more" from the woman. However she said she had only seen him as a friend.

The jury heard the woman, who began dating Mr Freeman in October 2018, had shown text messages she had received from Smith. Mr Freeman then told his partner he wanted to meet the accused.

On the evening of January 4, the accused, Mr Freeman, his partner and her two brothers gathered and drank alcohol at the Gardenia Way home.

The court heard that tensions and arguments were sparked between Smith and Mr Freeman during the night, after Smith told the woman he "loved her".

In their last confrontation, Smith stands accused of taking a knife from the kitchen before fatally wounding Mr Freeman.

The jury was told Smith had blood on his hands, feet and clothes when he was arrested by police officers while walking down McFarlane St, away from the home.

Forensic testing allegedly revealed that the DNA profile matched Mr Freeman.

The trial now continues before Justice Ian Harrison.


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