More horrifying details were heard in Maroochydore Magistrates Court yesterday as two men accused of killing Bruce Saunders fronted court.
More horrifying details were heard in Maroochydore Magistrates Court yesterday as two men accused of killing Bruce Saunders fronted court.

Family hears explosive testimony in woodchipper death

FAMILY heard horrific details of the alleged woodchipper murder of Nambour father Bruce Saunders as two of his three accused killers fronted court.

Mr Saunders' partially-shredded body was found headfirst with his legs hanging out of an industrial woodchipper at a property near Gympie on November 12, 2017.

A committal hearing before Maroochydore Magistrates Court yesterday heard Gregory Lee Roser, 60, and Peter John Koenig, 62, were clearing trees from a Goomboorian property with Mr Saunders when they are alleged to have killed him.

The pair appeared in the dock, each charged with murder and attempt to pervert justice.

Co-accused Sharon Graham, 55, awaits an unscheduled Supreme Court trial on identical charges after she waived her right to a prior examination of prosecution evidence.

Mr Saunders' family, including his brother and his sister-in-law, travelled from as far as Bundaberg to attend proceedings while his only son was on the Sunshine Coast, but could not attend court.

Nambour man Bruce Saunders (left) died at a Goomboorian property in November 2017. Gregory Roser (top left) and Peter Koenig (top right) have faced court this week charged with Mr Saunders' alleged murder. Photos: Contributed
Nambour man Bruce Saunders (left) died at a Goomboorian property in November 2017. Gregory Roser (top left) and Peter Koenig (top right) have faced court this week charged with Mr Saunders' alleged murder. Photos: Contributed

One of the police officers tasked with examining the woodchipper told the court he and two others handled human remains, high-visibility fabric, "internal gore", blood, branches and phone fragments.

Ms Graham's ex-partner Barry Collins, 69, gave evidence from a correctional facility as he served a prison sentence for unrelated offences.

He claimed in the three months' before Mr Saunders' death, Ms Graham had asked him to "take Bruce fishing and Bruce not come back".

He told police on a separate occasion, Ms Graham said a property would be cleared, and "there was going to be an accident".

The court heard Mr Collins and Mr Koenig had worked together for 11 years, during which time Mr Koenig had expressed his "unrequited love" for Ms Graham while she was in a relationship with the witness.

Barrister for Mr Koenig, Simon Lewis, questioned why Mr Collins had waited until July 2019 to tell police of these conversations.

Mr Lewis suggested Mr Collins was a "mess" given he was facing jail time for drug charges at the age of 69.

Sharon Graham is one of three people alleged to have murdered Nambour man Bruce Saunders. She awaits a Supreme Court trial.
Sharon Graham is one of three people alleged to have murdered Nambour man Bruce Saunders. She awaits a Supreme Court trial.

Mr Collins said he wanted to "unburden" himself of the information which had been "tearing" at him.

Mr Roser's landlord, Karen Sharp, claimed Mr Roser had dramatically changed his account of the fatal incident when they spoke of it in November 2017 and March 2018.

"First time in November I thought it was just an accident, but by the time it got to February I knew we were dealing with something very different," Ms Sharp told the court.

Ms Sharp said Mr Roser claimed he and Mr Koenig were felling trees at one end of a clearing while Mr Saunders was in another area.

"And all of a sudden he said he heard a horrific noise, looked over to the chipper and saw his mate was in trouble, so he ran over to the chipper and tried to pull Bruce out," she said.

Ms Sharp said during a conversation in March, Mr Roser claimed he found Mr Saunders "slumped against a tree" with a "massive gash to his head" and "bleeding profusely".

Gympie Police and SES crews conducting a search at the Goomboorian property where Bruce Saunders died in a woodchipper in November 2017.
Gympie Police and SES crews conducting a search at the Goomboorian property where Bruce Saunders died in a woodchipper in November 2017.

Witness Sharon Beighton became emotional as she told the court she had "not long lost" her husband and son when Mr Saunders is alleged to have been murdered on her property.

She said in the moments after Mr Saunders' death, Mr Roser claimed he was "holding (Mr Saunders') legs" but "couldn't save him", and Mr Koenig told her to ring police.

She said the pair appeared horrified and were visibly shaken.

Sharon Graham's family member Rebecca Graham said during a group conversation on November 13, Mr Roser appeared "distraught", appeared in shock, was crying and "staring into space".

Other associates of the defendants, a man with expertise in woodchippers and a forensic scientist gave evidence yesterday. More witnesses will be called as the committal hearing continues in Maroochydore today.