A MAN accused of killing his neighbour with a baseball bat had previously tried to run him over, his murder trial has been told.
After reports surfaced in 2019 that Darren Royce Willis was last seen alive almost a decade earlier on December 10, 2010, two of his friends called Crime Stoppers.
Wayne Johnston was called as a prosecution witness on Tuesday and remembered the date was December 16 he last saw his good friend outside the Sportsman's Hotel in Bingara, north of Tamworth.
He identified a yellow ute in a media release as belonging to long-term Bingara resident Bruce Anthony Coss.
Coss, 49, has pleaded not guilty in the supreme court at Moree to murdering his 45-year-old neighbour by fatally striking him with a steel-capped baseball bat late at night in December 2010.
Mr Johnston recalled Coss and Mr Willis had previously got on well until some "sheep business". A payment dispute had caused friction and Mr Johnston said he told his friend "watch him, he might run over you".
"And he said 'he's already tried to do that, I had to dive over in the grass'," Mr Johnston recalled Mr Willis saying.
Coss was arrested in October 2019 following a renewed investigation and an inquest. The body of Mr Willis has never been found.
Senior Constable Steven Harris gave evidence on Tuesday that he was alerted in January 2011 to Mr Willis' disappearance by his sister and an investigation was launched.
Mr Willis had a past history of leading a nomadic lifestyle and would often leave the town for long periods without telling anyone, Senior Constable Harris had written in an earlier statement.
By then he was well-known to local police, the court heard.
"He was a character who regularly drew attention to himself, do you agree?" defence barrister Peter King asked.
"Correct," Senior Constable Harris replied.
The officer took a statement in 2011 from Coss and after speaking with him, felt "he was not involved", Senior Constable Harris wrote in a note at the time.
He agreed he had not spoken to one of the key Crown witnesses when he made that comment.
He agreed Coss "fully and freely" co-operated with questions and spoke openly of the pair's disagreements. The trial continues.
- Australian Associated Press
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