Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Rex Martinich

Jury told woman set up woodchipper murder for insurance

A 61-year-old woman is accused of procuring the murder of her ex-partner, killed in a woodchipper. (Samantha Manchee/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

A Queensland woman has been accused of planning the "extraordinarily wicked" murder of her ex-partner using a woodchipper so she could claim his estate and life insurance.

Sharon Graham, 61, in Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bruce James Saunders, 53, at a property near Gympie on November 12, 2017.

Justice Peter Callaghan told jurors before the 17-day trial they would not have to examine photographs and the "gruesome details" of Mr Saunders' body being partially drawn into a large woodchipper.

Crown prosecutor Greg Cummings told the jury in his opening comments that it was not in dispute that Mr Saunders had been "deliberately and unlawfully killed" on that day by Gregory Lee Roser under the guise of helping a recent widow clear tree stumps from her land.

Mr Cummings told the jurors they would have to carefully assess the credibility of witness Peter John Koenig, who would tell them he was the only person to see Roser hit Mr Saunders from behind with a metal pipe and then repeatedly strike the victim's head while he was on the ground.

"(Koenig) and Mr Roser then carried Mr Saunders' lifeless body to a hired woodchipping machine they had been using ... it was then partially fed into the machine and then Mr Roser started yelling as if to create the illusion that Mr Saunders had fallen into the machine," Mr Cummings said.

"Mr Koenig will tell you there was no lead-up to this extraordinarily wicked behaviour, no fight or argument or dispute over money or relationships. Mr Saunders and Mr Roser barely knew each other."

Mr Cummings said Graham was about an hour's drive away from the scene when the murder too place but claimed she engaged in the "counselling and procurement" of Roser to murder Mr Saunders.

"Her criminal liability stems from her conduct in lead-up and is unaffected by her not being there at the time," Mr Cummings said.

"The motive was simple: it was money."

Mr Cummings said Graham had regularly been spending thousands of dollars despite being on the disability pension at just over $800 a fortnight and the source of that additional money had been Mr Saunders.

Mr Cummings told the jurors they would hear evidence that Graham and Mr Saunders' relationship was ending and she wanted a new life with Roser but with access to her former partner's money.

"(Graham) was sole beneficiary of (Mr Saunders') will ... she stood to inherit his house, car, superannuation of $125,000 and a life insurance policy in excess of $700,000," Mr Cummings said.

The jury was also shown handwritten notes found in Roser's caravan that Mr Cummings said described Mr Saunders' car, work schedule and how to break into his home, along with suggested days to carry out an attack.

"Roser had little-to-no contact with Saunders; how did he get this information? Mr Cummings said.

Graham's barrister Peter Richards was due to make a brief opening statement in her defence on Tuesday.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.