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Newcastle Herald

Man denies dumping woman's body, lying to police to protect mate

TRAGIC LOSS: Carly McBride was last seen leaving her ex-partner's house at Muswellbrook on September 30, 2014. Her skeletal remains were found in bushland outside Scone nearly two years later.

JAMES Anthony Cunneen, accused of assisting a mate cover up the killing of Carly McBride in 2014, not only denies helping dump the 31-year-old's body in bushland outside Scone and lying to police but disputes she was murdered, a jury has heard.

Mr Cunneen, now 30, has pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact to murder over the death of Ms McBride and is facing an estimated three-month trial in Sydney Downing Centre District Court.

Ms McBride, a mother-of-two, was last seen leaving her ex-partner's house at Muswellbrook about 2pm on September 30, 2014.

Her skeletal remains were found in remote bushland at Owens Gap, on the outskirts of Scone, nearly two years later.

The prosecution case is that Ms McBride's boyfriend, Sayle Kenneth Newson, intercepted Ms McBride after she left the house in Calgaroo Avenue and killed her by inflicting a number of blows to her head and back.

During his opening address last week, Crown prosecutor Adrian Robertson told the jury that shortly after Ms McBride was murdered, Mr Cunneen became involved in what would become a plan to dispose of Ms McBride's body, create a false alibi for Mr Newson and point the finger at Ms McBride's ex-partner.

But during his opening address on Monday, Mr Cunneen's barrister, Dr Robert Cavanagh, told the jury the defence intended to make the prosecution prove every element of the offence, including that Mr Newson murdered Ms McBride.

He outlined the issues in the trial and told the jury Mr Cunneen disputed claims he had any knowledge Ms McBride had been killed, assisted in dumping her body or provided a false alibi for Mr Newson.

He also disputed the prosecution case that he took backroads from Muswellbrook to Scone to avoid detection while dumping Ms McBride's body, that his friendship with Mr Newson extended to the point he would help him cover up a murder or that he did anything to "thwart" the police investigation.

And he stressed the activities of Mr Newson, which the prosecution said last week included controlling behaviour and jealousy towards Ms McBride, were not evidence against Mr Cunneen.

But Dr Cavanagh did agree with the prosecution on at least one point; it is a circumstantial case bereft of DNA and eye witnesses.

"In respect of Mr Cunneen, you won't be finding confessions from him," Dr Cavanagh said. "There is no audio visual evidence showing him being involved in the disposal of Ms McBride's body, no witness evidence identifying him being involved."

The trial continues.