62-year-old John Wallace Edwards has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his estranged wife Sharon Edwards.
62-year-old John Wallace Edwards has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his estranged wife Sharon Edwards.

Accused had a ‘boxer’s fracture’ according to expert witness

A MEDICAL expert has told the NSW Supreme Court that hand injuries sustained by John Wallace Edwards at the time of his estranged wife's disappearance are consistent with that of a boxer.

The Crown case against the 62-year-old, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering Sharon Edwards, continued at Coffs Harbour Court House today with a number of medical practitioners and experts called to give evidence.

Mrs Edwards went missing on the night of March 14, 2015, after a night out at a South Grafton pub.

The court heard that on March 26 the accused presented to North Coast Radiology for a hand x-ray.

He was referred for the procedure after presenting to General Practitioner Krishnan Rajkumar from Grafton's Queen St Surgery due to pain and swelling of the right hand.

Radiographer Sean Summers conducted the procedure and was called to give evidence before the court on Thursday.

Asked by the Crown if Mr Edwards said anything to him as he entered the room, Mr Summers replied: "He mentioned something along the lines of it was his wife that was in the news that had gone missing recently".

In relation to the cause given for the injury, Mr Summers said: "If I recall it, he mentioned he hurt it around his yard doing yard work."

Sharon Edwards
Sharon Edwards

James Fraser, a fellow colleague, who was there at the time of the procedure, was also called to give evidence saying: "yes, he said something about gardening and an accident with a rock in the garden."

Referring General Practitioner Dr Rajkumar told the court that Mr Edwards returned to see him on April 1 to discuss the results of the x-ray, which showed a recent fracture to the top section of the fifth metacarpal (the hand bone).

Reading from his notes taken on the day he told the court: "He said he was trying to lift a heavy stone, which he couldn't, and this ended up crushing his hand against the ground where there was a Stanley knife, which caused a lesion, which was healing with a slight scar and he had put a suture (stitch) in it himself."

Police in the Clarence River in their search for Sharon Edwards.
Police in the Clarence River in their search for Sharon Edwards.

Dr Rajkumar told the court the lesion appeared to be about 3cm long, along the back of the hand below the fourth finger.

Next to appear for the Crown, also via audio visual link, was Dr Richard Lawson, head of the department of hand and peripheral nerve surgery at Royal North Shore Hospital.

Dr Lawson described the injuries Mr Edwards had sustained as: "consistent with a so called boxer's fracture."

He was asked to give his expert opinion of the probable cause of both the recent fracture to the top section of the fifth metacarpal and lesion to the back of the fourth metacarpal.

He also noted "quite an obvious kink in the middle of the bone" as evidence of a previous injury to the same bone lower down.

In relation to the recent break, he said the most common cause was: "striking with a clenched fist against a hard object."

Asked to provide his expert opinion on the likelihood that the injuries were caused from a rock falling on Mr Edwards' hand he replied:

"The pattern of injury he has is one that's caused by longitudinal force in the head up to the shaft of bone, but in a crushing injury the force is from back to front and won't cause that tilt failure of the neck (of the bone), but cause more fractures up and down the shaft. It is possible, but it is quite unlikely that dropping a rock would cause this mechanism of injury."

The Crown asked Dr Lawson if there was any commonality with the 'boxer's fracture' and the laceration on the back of his hand.

"Commonly we see what the colloquial term for is a 'fight bite'; when someone is punched in the face there can be a laceration to skin over the head of metacarpal caused by the tooth of the person who is being punched. It is common to have a laceration in conjunction with a boxer's fracture."

The trial continues before Justice Robert Hulme.