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The man accused of murdering a prominent rugby league player after stabbing him with a butterfly knife 17 times claims he was acting in self defence, a court heard.

Adam John Woodward from Brisbane, Australia, died with horrific injuries, including a fatal wound to his neck, after the altercation in August 2018.

On Monday Brisbane Supreme Court heard the defendant, Levi John Stephen Elliott, plead not guilty to murder.

The two men had a history together and Elliott had been heard to say he didn't like the way Mr Woodward had spoken to his mum in the past, the court heard.

The defendant's lawyer said that Elliot, the former manager of Brothers St Brendan’s Leagues Club where the men were drinking before the fight, was acting in self defence while he was pinned to the ground and being punched.

Witnesses claim Elliot beckoned Mr Woodward into a fight outside the bar before fatally stabbing him.

Prosecutor Caroline Marco told the jury that Elliott provoked Mr Woodward to fight after he "had niggled and jeered" at him all night in the club.

“It is the prosecution case Levi inflicted those wounds intending to kill Adam or at least to cause him grievous bodily harm,” Ms Marco said.

A forensic pathologist found that Mr Woodward had suffered 17 stab wounds, one of which was the fatal wound to his neck.

He had other life-threatening injuries to his right arm, face, neck and shoulder.

The court heard that the men had a history of animosity towards each other, and Ms Marco said that Elliott had previously spoken with other people about wanting to use the butterfly knife against Mr Woodward months before the fatal incident.

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She added that Elliot told somebody at the rugby club that he didn't like Mr Woodward because of a sexual experience he had with Elliot's sister, and the way he had allegedly spoken to Elliot's mother.

The court heard that at around 9pm on August 24 2018, the fight ensued after Elliott beckoned Mr Woodward outside, out of sight of security cameras.

Mr Woodward was on top of Elliot punching him when the latter struck with the knife, the court heard.

“Adam was left lying on the road, critically injured and bleeding heavily,” Ms Marco said.

Ms Marco said Elliott told police he acted in self-defence and that he never intended to hurt Mr Woodward.

Bartender Nicholas Owen said Elliot told him before the fight: “If the cops get called tonight, we’re mates. Remember that we are mates.”

The bartender said he urged Mr Woodward to walk away but Elliot egged him on by shouting “come on."

Elliott’s defence barrister Greg McGuire said his client's butterfly knife was used to perform tricks, and urged the jury to consider the extent of the injuries his client suffered during the fight.


“I’d ask you to pay particular attention to the manner in which people describe him [Mr Woodward] being on top of Levi Elliott and how forcefully he was punching him while he was being pinned to the ground,” he said.

“The real question is whether the Crown … proves whether he was not entitled to use the knife, that he was not acting in self-defence.”

The trial continues.

  • Knife Crime

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