Woodchipper death: Surprise call alleged murderers made
MOMENTS after two men are alleged to have fed a Sunshine Coast man's body through a woodchipper they phoned a woman accused of his murder, Sharon Graham.
Maroochydore Magistrates Court today heard Gregory Lee Roser and Peter John Koenig did not phone triple-0 when Bruce Saunders died.
Instead, the pair made a phone call each to Ms Graham and 19 minutes later told a woman of the fatal incident on her property, and asked her to call police.
Police prosecutor Mick Phillips said about 20 minutes later, officers arrived at what would later be declared a crime scene.
Mr Koenig, Mr Roser and Ms Graham are all charged with murdering Mr Saunders, and attempting to pervert justice in the weeks to follow.
Sergeant Phillips told the court all three men were in a relationship with Ms Graham at the time of the alleged murder.
More than 20 witnesses have been called to give evidence during Mr Koenig's and Mr Roser's committal hearing which started on Wednesday this week.
Sgt Phillips pointed to photos of the crime scene, forensic examination of blood stains in and around the woodchipper, and more than 2000 hours of secretly-recorded conversations between the murder-accused trio.
He said there was "financial motive" as Ms Graham had recently increased Mr Saunders' life insurance, and his will was written in her favour.
Sgt Phillips accused Mr Koenig and Mr Roser of removing lights from the work site before police arrived after 8pm on November 12, in an attempt to stage Mr Saunders' death as an accident.
He said photographic evidence cast doubt on Mr Roser's repeated claims he desperately tried to pull Mr Saunders' legs from the woodchipper.
He said photos showed Mr Saunders' boots were on, his socks were "perfectly pulled up" and there was no disturbance to the legs or shoes.
"The evidence is that when Mr Saunders' remains were removed from the chipper it wasn't caught in the chipper, it was resting up against the chipper," Sgt Phillips said.
Mr Roser maintained his innocence as Magistrate Chris Callaghan declared he was satisfied there was enough evidence to commit him to stand trial in the Supreme Court.
"I am not guilty your honour," Mr Roser stated before he was remanded in custody.
Mr Roser is officially charged with murdering Mr Saunders on November 12, 2017 and attempting to pervert justice from November 11, 2017 to May 30, 2018 by collaborating to provide a false version of events, and interfering with witnesses.
Sergeant Phillips submitted Mr Koenig should be committed to stand Supreme Court trial on identical charges for his alleged role in Mr Saunders' death.
Barrister for Mr Koenig, Simon Lewis, conceded there was a prima face against his client on the pervert justice charge.
But he said there was not substantial, independent evidence to convict him of murder and the highest potential charge on the evidence before court was accessory after the fact of a crime.
He said that the "hearsay evidence" against his client predominantly came from statements given by Graham and Roser, which were not admissible against his client.
"The large amount of the evidence comes from conversations between those two (Graham and Roser) in that listening device evidence," Mr Lewis said.
Sgt Phillips said a forensic scientist's evidence indicated Mr Saunders was stationary on the woodchipper's rear tray for a "period of time" while his blood was transferred onto the machine.
He said a forensic scientist had given evidence the stains were inconsistent with someone being "dragged" as the defendants' had claimed.
He said the forensic scientist had returned to the scene and tested an area 2.5 metres behind the woodchipper, where an apparent blood stain had been photographed.
He said the stain was not visible at that time of testing, but it tested positive for Mr Saunders' DNA.
"The length of time he would have been in that feed tray is not consistent with someone who would have been dragged through... the blood patterns in the tray are not consistent with that," Sgt Phillips said.
Mr Callaghan has retired to consider the submissions and is expected to make his decision at 2.30pm.
A loved one of Mr Saunders' who was present during the proceedings said the family was satisfied one of his alleged killers was today committed to stand trial.
Sharon Graham awaits an unscheduled Supreme Court trial on identical charges after she waived her right to a prior examination of prosecution evidence.