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Accused murderer ran into business bloodied, bruised days before stabbing

Ray Stacey — accused of killing Clifford Comerford in January 2015 — speaks to his lawyers prior to the start of proceedings in his second-degree murder trial, as members of Comerford's family look on, Friday in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's..
Ray Stacey — accused of killing Clifford Comerford in January 2015 — speaks to his lawyers prior to the start of proceedings in his second-degree murder trial, as members of Comerford's family look on, Friday in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's..

Two days before he was arrested for murder, a frantic and frightened Ray Stacey ran into a business with a bloody mouth and bruised eye, claiming someone tried to stab him, a jury heard today.

Testifying in Stacey's second-degree murder trial at Newfoundland Supreme course in St. John's, two women who worked at Tax on Wheels Ltd. on Jan. 9, 2015, said the man — who they later recognized as Stacey — ran into the business on Patrick Street just before 4 p.m. that day.

Nancy Butler said he seemed upset and was bleeding from his mouth and had a bruised and swollen left eye. He told her someone broke into his house and tried to stab him. He told them he escaped through a window.

"He was kind of shaking when he was talking, kind of like one would be if trying not to cry. His voice was cracking," Butler said. "He was speaking loudly and was riled up."

She said he asked to use the phone and was pacing back and forth. She said he needed to get in contact with his grandmother and a man named Josh.

She said she gave him a glass of water and offered to call an ambulance, but he declined.

Her boss gave him money for a cab and when a cab showed up, he got in and left.

Butler said she had never seen him before, but recognized him a few days later, when she saw him on the news.

Stacey was arrested Jan. 11, 2015, and charged after he was said to have stabbed 41-year-old Clifford Comerford to death.

That night, Comerford and Stacey — who were co-workers employed as chicken catchers — had been in a company shuttle van, which was on its way to work at a chicken farm. Witnesses say that when the van stopped to pick up Stacey on Greenwood Crescent in Mount Pearl, he and Comerford got into a heated argument. Shortly after they got back in the van, Comerford was stabbed. In all, he had six stab wounds, including three to the chest.

Stacey — who ran away after the incident — was arrested later that night.

However, earlier in the trial, jurors heard evidence that Stacey had been at Comerford's apartment on Power Street, not far from Patrick Street, a few days before the stabbing.

In opening statements to the jury, the Crown said Stacey was at the bed-sitting house and had complained to Comerford about the quality of drugs he had gotten for him. Comerford was then said to have left the apartment to get the man who had supplied him with the drugs. When they returned, that man reportedly assaulted Stacey, escaped through a window and ran up the road to Tax on Wheels Ltd.

Ashley Welsh was near the front counter and was the first one who talked to him when he came in.

She, too, described him as having blood on his face and a bruised eye. He asked for help and asked to use the phone.

"I got kind of scared," so she went to get another employee and her boss in the back offices.

Welsh said he told them someone tried to stab him, he was cornered and had to jump out a window to escape.

She said the man made three or four phone calls.

"I heard him call his Mom and say, 'I'm here with my face beat off and I've got my jaw broke again. Someone tried to stab me,'" said Welsh, who said his bruise worsened in the 15 or 20 minutes he was there.

She said the man asked her boss, Bernie Manning, could he give him a ride home. Instead, Manning gave him $25 for a taxi. He left a few minutes later when the taxi arrived.

When asked if she recognized the man in the courtroom, she said yes and pointed to Stacey, who sat in the prisoner's box.

In cross-examination, when asked to describe Stacey's demeanour the day he came into Tax on Wheels, Welsh said, "He seemed like someone who was traumatized, afraid and scared."

Testimony in the trial continues Monday.

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyCourt

Testifying in Stacey's second-degree murder trial at Newfoundland Supreme course in St. John's, two women who worked at Tax on Wheels Ltd. on Jan. 9, 2015, said the man — who they later recognized as Stacey — ran into the business on Patrick Street just before 4 p.m. that day.

Nancy Butler said he seemed upset and was bleeding from his mouth and had a bruised and swollen left eye. He told her someone broke into his house and tried to stab him. He told them he escaped through a window.

"He was kind of shaking when he was talking, kind of like one would be if trying not to cry. His voice was cracking," Butler said. "He was speaking loudly and was riled up."

She said he asked to use the phone and was pacing back and forth. She said he needed to get in contact with his grandmother and a man named Josh.

She said she gave him a glass of water and offered to call an ambulance, but he declined.

Her boss gave him money for a cab and when a cab showed up, he got in and left.

Butler said she had never seen him before, but recognized him a few days later, when she saw him on the news.

Stacey was arrested Jan. 11, 2015, and charged after he was said to have stabbed 41-year-old Clifford Comerford to death.

That night, Comerford and Stacey — who were co-workers employed as chicken catchers — had been in a company shuttle van, which was on its way to work at a chicken farm. Witnesses say that when the van stopped to pick up Stacey on Greenwood Crescent in Mount Pearl, he and Comerford got into a heated argument. Shortly after they got back in the van, Comerford was stabbed. In all, he had six stab wounds, including three to the chest.

Stacey — who ran away after the incident — was arrested later that night.

However, earlier in the trial, jurors heard evidence that Stacey had been at Comerford's apartment on Power Street, not far from Patrick Street, a few days before the stabbing.

In opening statements to the jury, the Crown said Stacey was at the bed-sitting house and had complained to Comerford about the quality of drugs he had gotten for him. Comerford was then said to have left the apartment to get the man who had supplied him with the drugs. When they returned, that man reportedly assaulted Stacey, escaped through a window and ran up the road to Tax on Wheels Ltd.

Ashley Welsh was near the front counter and was the first one who talked to him when he came in.

She, too, described him as having blood on his face and a bruised eye. He asked for help and asked to use the phone.

"I got kind of scared," so she went to get another employee and her boss in the back offices.

Welsh said he told them someone tried to stab him, he was cornered and had to jump out a window to escape.

She said the man made three or four phone calls.

"I heard him call his Mom and say, 'I'm here with my face beat off and I've got my jaw broke again. Someone tried to stab me,'" said Welsh, who said his bruise worsened in the 15 or 20 minutes he was there.

She said the man asked her boss, Bernie Manning, could he give him a ride home. Instead, Manning gave him $25 for a taxi. He left a few minutes later when the taxi arrived.

When asked if she recognized the man in the courtroom, she said yes and pointed to Stacey, who sat in the prisoner's box.

In cross-examination, when asked to describe Stacey's demeanour the day he came into Tax on Wheels, Welsh said, "He seemed like someone who was traumatized, afraid and scared."

Testimony in the trial continues Monday.

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyCourt

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