A woman accused of plotting an "extraordinarily wicked" murder of her ex-partner, whose body was fed into a woodchipper near Gympie, allegedly "counselled" her then-boyfriend to kill him so she could claim his $750,000 life insurance, a jury has heard.
Sharon Graham, 61, is on trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court, having pleaded not guilty to murder of Bruce Saunders in November 2017.
The 54-year-old butcher died while he was clearing trees with two other men, Gregory Roser and Peter Koenig, on a rural property in Goomboorian, near Gympie in south-east Queensland.
Mr Saunders' death was initially deemed an industrial accident, but Ms Graham was later charged with murder.
In an opening address to the court, crown prosecutor Greg Cummings told the hearing it was alleged Ms Graham "successfully counselled and procured" Mr Roser, who was her partner at the time, "over a number of months" to kill Mr Saunders.
Mr Cummings said while Ms Graham was over "an hour's drive away" from where Mr Saunders' alleged murder took place, her "liability stemmed from her conduct leading up to his killing".
Mr Cummings told the 15 jurors they would have to "assess the credibility" of Mr Koenig, who will be called during the trial to give evidence that he saw Mr Roser hit Mr Saunders' three times over the head with a metal pipe.
He told the hearing that Mr Koenig would also give evidence that Mr Roser then asked him to help him put Mr Saunders into a woodchipping machine where his body was almost "entirely consumed".
"You might be in your right mind at the moment struggling to understand how Mr Roser would have come to engage in this extraordinarily wicked behaviour," Mr Cummings told the hearing.
"The answer to that question is central to this trial.
"What the prosecution sets out to prove is that the intentional killing of Mr Saunders by Mr Roser was the culmination of counselling and procuring by Ms Graham … that had commenced some months before," he said.
'Ms Graham stood to gain a great deal'
The court heard the prosecution would allege Ms Graham's motive was that she would benefit financially from his death.
"At the time of his death, Ms Graham stood to gain a great deal," Mr Cummings told the jury.
"She stood to inherit Mr Saunders' house … and you will hear evidence it was purchased for about $430,000 … there was a superannuation fund of about $120,000, there was a car owned outright and … there was 700,000 odd dollars [life] insurance in her favour," he said.
"Put bluntly, the motive is that Mr Saunders' having exhausted himself financially had now become worth more dead than alive to Ms Graham and that is the motive the prosecution sets out to prove," he said.
Mr Cummings further alleged Mr Saunders, Mr Roser and Mr Koenig all had "feelings for" Ms Graham and that she had "significant influence" over the three men.
"There is a substantial body of evidence that these three men were under the influence of Ms Graham – she constantly influenced all of them," he told the jury.
The trial before Justice Peter Callaghan is set to run for a month and will hear from several witnesses, including Mr Koenig and friends and family of both Mr Saunders and Ms Graham.
In a brief opening address, Sharon Graham's lawyer Peter Richards told the court his client denied "asking, counselling or procuring" Mr Roser to kill Mr Saunders.
The trial will resume next week.