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Guilty verdict in woodchipper murder trial

Blake Saunders said his "dad does not deserve to be remembered as the woodchipper victim".

Blake Saunders said his "dad does not deserve to be remembered as the woodchipper victim". Photo: AAP

All that was left of Bruce Saunders in the woodchipper was his legs.

However, his son Blake hoped that was not how his father would be remembered after Gregory Lee Roser was found guilty of a “most gruesome and evil” murder.

Roser, 63, received a life sentence after bludgeoning Mr Saunders with a metal bar at a property north of Brisbane in November 2017.

The 54-year-old’s body was then fed into the chipper with the help of another man, Peter Koenig, to make it look an accident.

“My dad did not deserve to be remembered as the woodchipper victim,” Blake Saunders said in a victim impact statement read in Brisbane Supreme Court.

He hoped his father would be thought of fondly as a good man who tried to help as many people as he could.

Victim was kind to a fault

Indeed the happy-go-lucky Mr Saunders was kind to a fault, Justice Martin Burns said.

“A fault that probably became a fatal fault,” he said.

Mr Saunders had agreed to help “so called friends” clear trees at the Goomboorian property near Gympie when he was killed.

The disposal of his body was beyond the imagination of any decent human being, Justice Burns said.

“But you are not a decent human being, far from it,” he told Roser, who showed no emotion throughout.

Mr Saunders died after becoming embroiled in a “love quadrangle”.

The Crown alleged Sharon Graham asked her lovers Roser and Koenig to kill her ex-partner Mr Saunders in a bid to claim his $750,000 life insurance.

Graham was living with Mr Saunders – albeit in separate bedrooms – and was in a relationship with Roser while also intimate with Koenig.

They had split but Mr Saunders was still “besotted” with Graham.

Will, life insurance policy made out to ex-lover

Mr Saunders even made out his will and life insurance policy in her favour.

It was a decision Justice Burns said could only be understood by “the clutch of evil – and a rare brand of evil it was – which took a hold of him”.

So when Graham asked him to help on the property, Mr Saunders agreed.

He even paid for the chipper hire.

Roser said Graham first asked him to kill Mr Saunders soon after they had met.

Her murder plan evolved over months, at one stage borrowing a handgun from Koenig, the court heard.

“You were either too weak or too stupid to resist,” Justice Burns told Roser.

After repeatedly hitting Mr Saunders, Roser received help from Koenig carrying the body to the chipper because he had a bad back.

Body manipulated to look like an accident

Koenig fed Mr Saunders into the machine until the legs remained to “leave a bit of Bruce” so police thought it was an accident.

Roser moved into Mr Saunders’ bedroom with Graham the night after his murder.

Roser and Koenig told police a “reckless” Mr Saunders had fallen into the chipper trying to retrieve his phone.

Work colleagues said Mr Saunders was always “safety first” as a third generation butcher.

Roser even claimed he had tried to save Mr Saunders by grabbing his legs.

However when his trial started, Roser changed his tune.

He said a plan by Graham had been carried out by Koenig, who he claimed had Mafia connections.

Killer eligible for parole in 20 years

Roser admitted to “shamefully” assisting Koenig with the body’s disposal and lying to police.

Justice Burns said the guilty verdict was a “unanimous rejection” of his claims.

Roser is eligible for parole in 20 years.

But Justice Burns said authorities should look long and hard before releasing him, describing Roser as a “particularly dangerous individual”.

Graham, 61, pleaded not guilty to murder and successfully applied for a separate trial.

Koenig pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder this year.

Blake Saunders was supported during the five-week trial by family and friends.

“It’s been very difficult for me. Not only was he my dad, he was my best friend – I miss him dearly,” he said, fighting back tears.

-AAP

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