But Saunders was dead before his body was fed into the machine after unwittingly becoming embroiled in a “love quadrangle”, the Brisbane Supreme Court has been told.
Gregory Lee Roser, 63, and Sharon Graham, 61, are on trial after being charged with the murder of “good natured” Saunders.
Police initially believed Saunders, 54, died in an industrial accident while clearing a friend’s rural property near Gympie north of Brisbane in November 2017.
When emergency crews responded to a call they found Saunders in the woodchipper at the Goomboorian property.
“All that was left of the body was the legs from about just above the knees down,” crown prosecutor David Meredith told the jury on Monday in his opening address.
“It is not the prosecution’s case that he was killed by … the chipper. He was killed and put into the chipper to hide the fact that it was murder.”
Roser and Graham had been planning Saunders’ murder for up to six months, the prosecutor said.
He said Graham was in a de facto relationship with Saunders after they had met online, purchasing a house together.
But Saunders was “worth a great deal more to her dead than alive”, he said.
He had made out a will and taken out a life policy in favour of Graham that was originally for $500,000 but increased to $750,000 a week before his death, the court heard.
Meredith said the court was expected to hear a police recording of Graham calling the insurance company days after Mr Saunders’ death inquiring about collecting the insurance, telling them that police had decided it was an industrial accident.
“The prosecution says Sharon Graham had a powerful motive for wanting Bruce Saunders dead,” Meredith said.
Graham had asked Roser to help kill Saunders in a plan that evolved over time, the prosecutor said.
First they planned for Roser to break into Saunders’ Nambour house and kill him.
Another plan involved Roser shooting Saunders at his workplace.
Finally they decided to kill him and make it look like an accident, bringing in another man Peter Koenig.
Koenig pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to murder in June 2022, the jury was told.
He is expected to give evidence during the four-week trial, saying Graham asked him and Roser to murder Saunders, Meredith said.
He said Roser was eventually the one who killed Saunders by hitting his head with an iron bar before the body was fed into the chipper.
Graham was living with Saunders but at the time was in a relationship with Roser and may have also had “intimate relations” with Koenig.
“This is a love quadrangle because Peter Koenig, Greg Roser and Bruce Saunders were all in love it seems at least at some stage with Sharon Graham,” Meredith said.