A MURDER trial is on hold and police are investigating after a man made a gruesome discovery of a human skull near a waterfall in the New England.
The NSW Supreme Court trial of Bruce Anthony Coss was sensationally delayed on Monday after the Crown revealed new information had come to light about the disappearance of Darren Royce Willis in Bingara in 2010.
The court heard earlier publicity surrounding the judge-alone trial had prompted an elderly man's memory, causing him to trek for hours to the base of a waterfall on his property, where he discovered human bones.
The trial was on a five-week break at the time, after it was adjourned in June.
The elderly man took the bone fragments to Bingara Police Station and told officers he had found them near the base of a waterfall in the remote area known as 'six mile'.
Crown prosecutor Liam Shaw told the court of the explosive development on Monday afternoon and asked for an adjournment.
He said a forensic anthropologist had given a statement that the bones were fragments of skull and jawbone.
The court heard DNA testing had indicated a "consistent" profile match with Mr Willis.
"Certainly at the very least it's given some closure to the family, Your Honour," Mr Shaw said.
He told the court investigations were continuing, including taking further statements and tracking down council records about a potential construction site that was in the area.
He said police were looking into whether it was possible for a ute to drive to the top of the waterfall at the time of the alleged murder more than a decade ago.
Coss is accused of bludgeoning his 45-year-old neighbour, Mr Willis, to death with a baseball bat on a dark street out in Bingara, in December 2010.
The prosecution case is that he then used a yellow Ford ute to dump his body, which had never been found when the trial opened in late May.
Justice Hament Dhanji said it was necessary to adjourn to November.
"This is clearly highly relevant information that's come to light," he told the court.
He said he understood the case - which was expected to resolve this week - had been "hanging over" Coss.
But, he said based on what he had been told, DNA evidence from the bones could help establish that Mr Willis had in fact died, and could also potentially provide insight into how.
The Crown is expected to provide material to the defence as it arises.
The matter will be mentioned in October to see how it is tracking and the trial is expected to resume in November and run for another week.
Mr Willis vanished in late 2010.
it wasn't until October 2019 that Coss was arrested, after detectives received new information and reopened the investigation.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
- Bookmark northerndailyleader.com.au
- Make sure you are signed up for our breaking and regular headlines newsletters
- Follow us on Twitter
- Follow us on Instagram
- Follow us on Google News