Jailed man 'lost out big time' in cover-up

A NSW man who helped a murderer dump his girlfriend's body in remote bushland said he "lost out big time" after helping his "good mate".

More than eight years after Sayle Kenneth Newson viscously beat Carly McBride to death in September 2014, James Anthony Cunneen has been jailed for at least four years for helping him try to cover up the crime.

The 31-year-old pleaded not guilty to being an accessory to murder, but was found guilty by a jury in July.

Newson was sentenced to 27 years in prison in December 2021 after beating Ms McBride to death in what Judge Phillip Mahony called "a fit of jealous rage".

Cunneen, Newson and Ms McBride met in 2013 at a Salvation Army rehab centre and stayed in touch.

By August 2014, Ms McBride and Newson were together.

"That relationship was marred by jealousy and possessiveness," Judge Mahony said while sentencing Cunneen in the Downing Centre District Court on Friday.

Newson made Ms McBride delete her Facebook account the day before he murdered her on September 30, 2014, because other men were contacting her.

Following the murder, Cunneen helped Newson as the pair attempted to cover up the crime, "callously discarding" her body in remote bushland, deleting text messages and smartphone location histories, and lying to police.

In a text message some six months after the murder, Cunneen told the recipient he had "lost out big time".

"I gave everything to help someone to get out of a bad situation," he texted.

"He's a good mate but that's not why I did it.

"I did it because if the tables were turned I know that he would be the only person that I know that would do it for someone else in his position," Cunneen said, lamenting it was "hard to find genuine straight up people anymore".

Cunneen's loyalty to the much older Newson continued even after Ms McBride's unburied skeletal remains were found by bushwalkers at Owens Gap, west of Scone in the NSW Hunter region, in August 2016.

His assistance, local knowledge and silence helped Newson avoid detection, the judge said.

Knowing the area, Cunneen and Newson took back roads to the Owens Gap site to avoid point-to-point cameras on the New England Highway between Muswellbrook and Scone.

Cunneen posted a picture of Ms McBride on a community Facebook page on October 1, 2014, claiming she was missing, despite helping dispose of her corpse a day earlier.

His silence hindered the police investigation and denied closure to Ms McBride's family, Judge Mahony said.

"This was not a case of a mere failure by the offender to report the murder," he said.

"Given the period of time involved, the assistance could in no way be considered as 'spur of the moment'," the judge said.

Cunneen was living a "criminal lifestyle" when the offences were committed, the judge said.

He was a chronic drug user who was also charged with firearm and drug supply offences around the same time.

"For a young man he has already served a substantial period of time in custody," he said.

Cunneen sat silently in the dock while being sentenced, giving a brief wave to supporters in the court before being led back to prison.

He will be eligible for parole in May 2026.