Shortly after Bruce Saunders was found in a wood chipper, Sharon Graham tried to claim she was still in a relationship with her ex-partner “because of the insurance,” a court has been told.
Graham, 61, and Gregory Lee Roser, 63, have pleaded not guilty to murder after Saunders, 54, died while working on a property north of Brisbane in November 2017.
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Graham is accused of asking Roser and another man, Peter Koenig, to kill Saunders and make it look like an accident in order to collect her ex-partner’s $750,000 life insurance policy.
The jury was shown Wednesday police video of Saunders’ legs sticking out of the chipper on the Goomboorian property near Gympie after he was clearing trees with Roser and Koenig.
Friend Kim Simpson told Brisbane High Court that Graham has split from Saunders but has returned to his home in Nambour and is living in separate bedrooms.
She said Graham called her “crying hysterically” and told her “one of the guys fell into the wood chipper.”
A “week or two” later, Graham asked Simpson to write a letter to her attorney, after previously mentioning that Saunders “had left everything to her,” the court heard.
“She asked me if I could write a letter to her attorney explaining that she and Bruce were in a relationship at the time of his death … because of the insurance,” Simpson told the jury.
When asked if she wrote the letter, Simpson said, “No, because it wasn’t true.”
Graham has been accused of being in a “love quadrangle” with Roser, Koenig and Saunders and of planning the latter’s murder for months.
Graham’s friend Leonie Whyte said Koenig and Roser told her Saunders’ death was an accident.
“They said Bruce was messing with something on the machine and wasn’t very careful that day,” she told the court.
However, a neighbor said Graham told him Saunders, overwhelmed, grabbed his phone and fell into the shredder.
“She said… they only found a little bit of clothing… and not much else,” Stanley Cook told jurors.
Court hears text exchange
Graham told another friend in a text exchange shown in court that Saunders texted her before his phone fell in the wood chipper and he may have died trying to retrieve it.
“Can’t speak, I’m devastated. Bruce has passed away. He texted me when his phone must have fallen into the wood mower and he must have gone to grab it,” Graham’s text to a friend said.
“The police said it was a tragic accident… I cried all night. I am devo.”
Another neighbor said Koenig frequently stayed at the Nambour residence and gave a “detailed account” of the death.
Anthony Eyndhoven said Koenig told him he had last seen Saunders feeding a branch into the chopper, but turning around he heard the machine “make a different noise”.
Koenig said he turned off the chopper but didn’t see Saunders until he “walked around the back and saw legs coming out.”
Eyndhoven said Koenig also told him the chopper’s owner “had a lot to answer for” because the safety switch was disconnected.
Other neighbors told the court that after Saunders’ death there were regular parties at the Nambour residence.
They said people “come and go”, including Graham in her late ex-partner’s car and “things being removed from the house”.
“It (parties) started after his death and continued for a few weeks … definitely until Christmas (2017),” said neighbor Colleen Paice.
Ten days after Saunders’ funeral, Graham texted a friend, saying, “We’re going to the Yandina Hotel… GREAT BAND… WOOHOO.”
The trial before Judge Martin Burns continues.
https://7news.com.au/news/court-justice/im-devo-texts-from-woodchipper-murder-accused-read-in-court-c-8312785 Sharon Graham’s texts read at Bruce Saunders’ Woodchipper Murder Trial