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Gregory Roser and Sharon Graham plead not guilty to murder of Bruce Saunders on first day of trial

A woman accused of being at the centre of a "love quadrangle" with three men, had allegedly been plotting to kill one of them for several months, before she convinced two of them to carry out the crime and "make it look like an accident" by disposing of his body in a woodchipper, a jury has been told.

Gregory Roser and Sharon Graham are on trial for the murder of Bruce Saunders in November 2017.

The 54-year-old died while he was clearing trees with Mr Roser and another man, Peter Koenig, on a rural property in Goomboorian, near Gympie in south-east Queensland.

In the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Monday, both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

During his opening address, crown prosecutor David Meredith told the jury it was alleged Ms Graham had asked her then-partner, Mr Roser, and her friend, Mr Koenig, to kill Mr Saunders – who was her former partner.

Mr Meredith said it was alleged this was so she could claim a $750,000 life insurance policy he had taken out for himself, which she was the main beneficiary of.

"The prosecution says Sharon Graham had a powerful motive for wanting Bruce Saunders dead, he was worth a great deal more to her dead than alive," Mr Meredith told the hearing.

The court heard her alleged plan had initially only involved Mr Roser and was discussed as early as May 2017 but had "evolved over time" and had several different variations, including breaking into Mr Saunders home and killing him, or shooting him.

Mr Meredith told the jury it was alleged Mr Koenig was eventually brought in on the plot, before it was decided the pair would need to "make it look like an accident".

"She said to Roser and Koenig — 'you two, I want you to clear some trees with Bruce … and while you're at it, I want you to kill Bruce' — that's what she's said or words to that effect," Mr Meredith said.

Saunders struck in the head, body placed in woodchipper

Mr Meredith told the court Mr Koenig, who was due to give evidence during the trial, had already pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder, with the prosecution accepting he had not been involved in the alleged killing but "did nothing to stop it".

"In fact, he helped hide it," Mr Meredith said.

The court heard Mr Roser allegedly killed Mr Saunders by striking him over the head with an iron bar, before both men placed his body in the machine then turning it off when he was fed partway through.

Jurors were shown graphic forensic scene pictures of the lower part of Mr Saunder's body, including his legs, inside the woodchipper.

Mr Meredith described the three men as being in a "love quadrangle" with Ms Graham, which he said may "explain the motivations" of Mr Koenig and Mr Roser.

"Because Peter Koenig, Gregory Roser and Bruce Saunders were all in love it seems — at least at some stages — with Sharon Graham," he said.

Graham not at the scene

Mr Meredith said there was "no doubt" Ms Graham was not at the scene or involved in the act of physically killing Mr Saunders but she was allegedly still culpable.

"Her criminal reliability is based on the fact she procured or counselled Roser and Koenig to kill Bruce Saunders," he said.

Defence lawyer Peter Richards, who was representing Ms Graham, told the jury his client denied asking anyone to commit murder.

"So far as she understood it, Mr Saunders died as a result of an accident … that is what she was told and believed because she was not there," he said.

Mr Roser's lawyer, Lars Falcongreen told the jury his client had not disputed a murder had occurred, or that he "shamefully assisted" with disposing of Mr Saunders body, but it was contested that he was the one who killed him.

"He did not murder Bruce Saunders and he did not aid or encourage anyone to murder Mr Saunders," he said.

"In the end it was Peter Koenig."

The trial before Justice Martin Burns is expected to run for a month.

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