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Rex Martinich

Woodchipper murder accused thought death was 'accident'

A woman on trial for murder thought her ex's woodchipper death was an accident, her lawyer says. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

The barrister for a woman accused of planning her ex-partner's murder via a woodchipper has told a Queensland jury she thought his death was an accident.

Sharon Graham, 62, is on trial in Brisbane Supreme Court after pleading not guilty to the murder of Bruce James Saunders, 53, at a property near Gympie on November 12, 2017.

Crown prosecutor Greg Cummings told the jury in his opening comments that Graham was an hour's drive away from the scene when Mr Saunders was intentionally killed but before that day she had procured her new lover, Gregory Lee Roser, to carry out the murder.

Mr Cummings told the jurors they would hear from Peter John Koenig, who would tell them he was the only person to see Roser hit Mr Saunders from behind with a 40-millimetre metal pipe and then repeatedly strike the victim's head while he was on the ground.

Mr Cummings said Mr Koenig would say he joined Roser in carrying Mr Saunders' lifeless body to a large woodchipper and partially lower his body into the machinery to make it look like he had a fatal accident while clearing trees to help a recent widow sell her land.

"Ultimately it comes down to (Graham) having manipulative control over three persons and as a product of that she stood to gain very substantial amounts (of money) that she desperately needed from Mr Saunders," Mr Cummings said.

Mr Cummings alleged Graham, who was on living a disability support pension of just over $800 per fortnight, murdered Mr Saunders to inherit his house, car, $125,000 in superannuation and $750,000 in life insurance.

In brief opening comments for the defence on Thursday, Graham's barrister Peter Richards said it was not in dispute that his client was the beneficiary of Mr Saunders' will and insurance policies.

"Sharon Graham did not ask, counsel or procure either Mr Roser or Mr Koenig to kill Mr Saunders," Mr Richards said.

"As far as Sharon Graham observed at the time, Mr Saunders died as a result of an accident and ... one of the principal issues in this trial is the credibility and reliability of Peter John Koenig."

The trial is due to run for another 16 hearing days before Justice Peter Callaghan.

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