Woodchipper death 'didn't make sense'

·3-min read

At first, Sharon Beighton was in shock when told Bruce Saunders had fallen into a woodchipper in a "terrible accident" on her property.

But Ms Beighton later thought it didn't make sense after asking Gregory Lee Roser about the tragedy, she told the Brisbane Supreme Court.

Roser, 63, and Sharon Graham, 61, were charged with murder after Mr Saunders, 54, died while working on Ms Beighton's property north of Brisbane in November 2017.

Graham is accused of asking Roser and another man Peter Koenig to kill Mr Saunders and make it look like an accident to claim his $750,000 life insurance policy.

Ms Beighton had fallen asleep while Mr Saunders, Roser and Koenig were clearing trees on her property near Gympie before she was woken abruptly.

She said when she went outside, Koenig appeared in shock and Roser looked like he was vomiting.

"I remember ... thinking where's Bruce?" Ms Beighton told the court on Tuesday.

"Peter said 'there's been a terrible accident'. Greg said to me 'I tried to save him, I tried to pull him out ... he went through the chipper'."

Ms Beighton said she was surprised police had not been called but was told Roser's phone had no reception.

She told the jury her property had "great" reception.

However, Ms Beighton said Roser later told her that he had called Graham "down at the chipper" to tell her what happened, and had to ring an ambulance for her because "her blood pressure went through the roof".

When Roser and Koenig returned from the police station where they provided a statement, Ms Beighton said she asked what had happened.

She said Roser told her Mr Saunders had been an "absolute idiot on the day" and had been "standing on the chipper, leaning back into it".

Roser also told her Mr Saunders had been "woozy" and bleeding that day after being struck on the head by a falling branch.

However, Ms Beighton said she had seen Mr Saunders earlier and he appeared in good health.

"I didn't see any blood on Bruce so to me it didn't make sense. I think I was in shock (so) I didn't think to question a lot of things until later," she said.

Graham was in a "love quadrangle" with Roser, Koenig and Mr Saunders, plotting the latter's murder for months, the court heard.

Ms Beighton's granddaughter told the jury Graham would make a "big deal" about how much money Mr Saunders had and that "he would die first and she would get everything".

Keira-Lee Beighton confirmed Graham also said "it's not my fault that he loves me and wants to give me everything".

However, former work colleagues said Mr Saunders was in debt and had to borrow money to maintain Graham's lifestyle but never mentioned it to his partner for fear of losing her.

Keren Armstrong said Mr Saunders would ring in tears telling her Graham had hit him.

Another colleague Christeena Grills said a month before his death a "distraught" Mr Saunders had rung saying Graham was verbally abusive.

Mr Saunders had also told her Graham was "domineering and controlling" and that he was "quite scared of her", the court heard.

Ms Grills said Graham had told Mr Saunders a former partner "knew people who knew how to make someone disappear".

Graham would also demand money, with Mr Saunders at one stage "caving in" and paying her $11,000, the court heard.

When Ms Grills suggested he leave Graham, Mr Saunders told her "I know I have to" but he didn't know how to do it.

Roser and Graham have pleaded not guilty to murder.

The trial before Justice Martin Burns continues.