The owner of the property where Bruce Saunders’ body was found in a chipper says it didn’t make sense after being questioned about the horrific death, a court has heard.
At first Sharon Beighton was shocked when she told Bruce Saunders had fallen into a wood chipper 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 Brisbane’s 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 telling 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.
Bruce Saunders (pictured) died while working on a property north of Brisbane in 2017
Ms Beighton had fallen asleep while Mr Saunders, Roser and Koenig were clearing trees on her property near Gympie before she was abruptly woken.
She said when she went outside, Koenig appeared in shock and Roser looked like he was throwing up.
“I remember…I was like, where’s Bruce?” Mrs Beighton told the court on Tuesday.
‘Peter said ‘there has 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 the police had not been called but was told Roser’s phone had no reception.
She told the jury her property had a “good” reception.
However, Beighton said Roser later told her he had called Graham ‘down by the chipper’ to tell her what was happening and that he had to call an ambulance for her because ‘her blood pressure was going through the roof’.
Gregory Lee Roser (center), 63, and Sharon Graham (right), 61, are on trial after being charged with the murder of Bruce Saunders. Peter Koenig (left) pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder in June
When Roser and Koenig returned from the police station where they gave a statement, Beighton said she asked what had happened.
She said Roser told her Mr Saunders had been an ‘absolute idiot on the day’ and had ‘stood on the chipper and leaned back into it’.
Roser also told her that Mr Saunders had been ‘swollen’ and bleeding that day after being hit on the head by a falling branch.
But Ms Beighton said she had seen Mr Saunders previously and he appeared to be 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.
Sharon Beighton told the inquest of her shock at being told Bruce Saunders had fallen into a chipper in a ‘terrible accident’ on her property (pictured) but later realized it made no sense after asking questions about the tragedy
Graham was in a ‘love square’ with Roser, Koenig and Mr Saunders and planned the latter’s murder for months, the court heard.
Ms Beighton’s grandson told the jury that Graham would make a ‘big deal’ about how much money Mr Saunders had and that ‘he would die first and she would have everything’.
Keira-Lee Beighton confirmed that Graham also said “it’s not my fault 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 call in tears and tell her Graham had hit him.
Bruce Saunders’ colleagues told the court he was ‘quite scared’ of Sharon Graham (pictured)
Another colleague Christeena Grills said a month before her death a “distraught” Mr Saunders had called and said Graham was being verbally abusive.
Saunders had also told her that Graham was “dominant and controlling” and that he was “quite scared of her”, the court heard.
Ms Grills said Graham had told Mr Saunders that a former partner “knew people who knew how to make someone disappear”.
Graham would also demand money, with Mr Saunders at one stage ‘holding on’ and paying her $11,000, the court heard.
When Ms Grills suggested he leave Graham, Mr Saunders told her that “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 Judge Martin Burns continues.
Bruce Saunders (pictured), 54, was allegedly murdered and fed through a wood chipper