ACCUSED: John Edwards, pictured at a media conference at Grafton Police Station following the disappearance of his estranged wife Sharon in 2015, will face trial in Sydney Supreme Court in December.
ACCUSED: John Edwards, pictured at a media conference at Grafton Police Station following the disappearance of his estranged wife Sharon in 2015, will face trial in Sydney Supreme Court in December. Leigh Jensen

SHARON EDWARDS: Witnesses cross-examined

THE next date has been set for in the trial of the man accused of murdering missing Grafton school teacher Sharon Edwards.

Ms Edwards's estranged husband John Wallace Edwards, 62, appeared in Grafton Local Court on Tuesday via video link at a hearing where five witnesses were called to give testimony and be cross-examined by his defence barrister Peter O'Connor.

The court heard from medical witnesses who testified an injury found on Mr Edwards's hand following the disappearance of his estranged wife was referred to as a "boxer's fracture" more commonly associated with striking something with a clenched fist, as opposed to blunt-force trauma caused by dropping a rock on his hand as claimed by Mr Edwards.

In a May committal hearing, Magistrate Karen Stafford ordered a number of witnesses cross-examined because of concerns about the experience of some medical witnesses.

The first witness called was Wayne O'Brien, a peer support worker with the Rural Fire Service who reported to detectives the details of a number of conversations he had with Mr Edwards over two years, including recorded conversations between the two.

Mr O'Connor suggested that Mr O'Brien had described himself as a counsellor to Mr Edwards - leading him to believe whatever was said between them was confidential because of the counselling relationship.

Mr O'Brien said Mr Edwards was fully aware of the peer support work he was doing. He spoke to Mr Edwards daily, sometimes twice, and contacted the officer leading the investigation, detective Senior Constable Doug Scott.

The second witness was radiographer James Fraser, who took an X-ray of Mr Edwards's hand on March 26, 2015, and said Mr Edwards claimed he got a fractured hand after he dropped a rock on it while gardening. Mr Fraser said in his experience, a fracture of the fifth metacarpal was commonly caused by direct impact of a closed fist - commonly referred to as a "boxer's fracture".

During cross-examination, Mr O'Connor asked if Mr Fraser had ever been asked to identify to a court whether an injury could be caused in a particular way, to which Mr Fraser said he had not. Mr Fraser also said it was correct that there could be other causes of the fracture, and if there were, they were outside his scope of expertise.

Another medical witness, Dr Amir Kalanie, an orthopedic surgeon who had spent six months in a specialist hand trauma unit, agreed with Mr Fraser's opinion that "almost universally" an injury to the fifth metacarpal, in this case on the right hand, was a result of a direct blow by a closed fist.

Dr Kalanie testified that if Mr Edwards had dropped a rock on his hand the fracture pattern would be different to the one found in his X-ray, with soft tissue damage and many bone pieces.

Dr Kalanie also testified the injury shown in the X-ray appeared to be 7-10 days old, not as old as Mr Edwards had told the doctor who took the X-ray.

Under cross-examination, Dr Kalanie said while it was unlikely something like a fall could have caused the injury, it was possible, and nothing was 100 per cent in medicine.

Mr Edwards will face trial in Sydney Supreme Court, with an arraignment set for December 7.