Trio refused bail over woodchipper murder

Two men and a woman charged with the horrific murder of a man put through an industrial woodchipper have been refused bail.

Jul 20, 2021, updated Jul 20, 2021

Butcher Bruce Saunders, 54, suffered a gruesome death, initially believed to be an accident, while clearing a friend’s rural property at Goomboorian, near Gympie, in November 2017.

Greg Roser, 62, Peter Koenig, 64, and Saunders’ former partner Sharon Graham, 60, applied for bail in Queensland’s Supreme Court on Tuesday on charges of murder and perverting the course of justice.

Police were initially told Saunders accidentally fell into the chipper, but in the days that followed received information suggesting foul play.

Lawyers argued the crown case appeared to be “largely circumstantial” with the accused remaining in custody for more than three years with no sign of a trial date being set.

Witnesses would claim Saunders had a “blase” approach to safety and his death could have been an accident, John McInnes, representing Roser, said.

“What sets this matter apart from perhaps the typical murder is the existence of a hypothesis consistent with innocence … and that is that the deceased was careless in his operation of the woodchipper,” McInnes said.

“Woodchippers are inherently dangerous items and, in addition to the risk of falling or being dragged into the chipper by mistaken operation, there is a possibility of being struck by ejected material which should be taken into account.”

However, prosecutor Philip McCarthy strongly rejected any suggestion the death could have been an accident and said the trio was a “serious” risk of interfering with potential witnesses.

The crown case involves more than 1000 hours of surveillance recordings where the three accused were heard discussing the “need to get their stories straight”.

“They remarked how interesting it would be if police found out something,” McCarthy told the hearing.

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“There is evidence that there has been some concoction of the version provided to the police.”

In a recording of a phone call between Graham and Koenig, the pair openly discussed the investigation before Roser issued a warning to avoid talking on the phone.

“I know, I’m not going to say anything. I’m not stupid,” Graham replied.

The recordings also captured Graham boasting she was “right on top” of Roser.
“He is s****ing himself. He is the only person coming f***ing undone. I am not going to jail for no one,” she said.

“Clear inference can be drawn from that they are aware of the true circumstances of Mr Saunders’ death,” McCarthy said.

Justice Frances Williams said the Crown had a “complicated circumstantial case” and refused all three applications for bail.

“There is evidence that there has also been discussion between the applicants at various times of the evidence of police and the story that is to be given to police in respect of the investigation,” Justice Williams said.

“There is evidence to establish a risk of interference with witnesses and also a risk of obstructing the course of justice if released from custody.”

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