IN A dramatic turn of events, a man standing trial for the murder of an Armidale man has pleaded guilty before a jury.
Cecil Paul Briggs had maintained he did not murder 47-year-old Douglas Bindley in a violent Christmas Eve attack in Armidale in 2012 but reversed his stance in Armidale Supreme Court yesterday.
Briggs signalled his intention to plead before he was arraigned in front of the 12 jury members and Justice Richard Button, telling the court he was guilty of one charge of murder.
The Crown was nearing the end of its case against Briggs when the plea was reversed yesterday.
The development saw the jury discharged after more than seven days of evidence was detailed in court.
Since the trial began on June 4, the court has heard evidence from more than 20 witnesses including arresting police, investigating detectives, family of the victim, witnesses near the scene of the crime, a neighbour and a forensic pathologist.
The Crown had alleged Briggs attacked Mr Bindley with a small black baseball bat and a wooden chair leg in a Brown St unit in Armidale.
The victim was taken to Armidale Hospital for treatment of his injuries but his condition deteriorated and he died in hospital on Boxing Day.
Briggs, who had been granted bail after the attack in an out-of-sessions bail court on Christmas Day, was rearrested and had the charges upgraded to murder.
He has been in custody since.
Yesterday, Justice Richard Button thanked the jury for their service before they were formally discharged.
Sentencing submissions will be heard from both sides before Briggs is sentenced at a later date.