Five years later, Gregory Lee Roser is found guilty of what the victim’s son called the “most heinous and evil” murder.
Roser, 63, was sentenced to life in prison when it was revealed that he had beaten Saunders with a metal rod at a building north of Brisbane in November 2017.
The body was then fed into the shredder with the help of another man, Peter Koenig.
“My father doesn’t deserve to be remembered as the wood chipper victim,” Saunders’ son Blake said in a victim statement read out in court.
“My father was a kind, happy, hard-working, wonderful man.”
During his five-week trial at the Brisbane Supreme Court, Roser did not deny that Saunders was murdered.
Roser admitted to “shamefully” helping to dispose of the body in the shredder and lied about it, telling police it had been an industrial accident.
However, Roser accused Koenig of killing Saunders while they were cutting trees on the Goomboorian property near Gympie.
After deliberating on Tuesday afternoon, the jury found Roser guilty Friday morning in the presence of Saunders’ family and friends.
“He (Saunders) was kind and generous to a mistake, which … probably turned into a fatal mistake,” Judge Martin Burns told Roser.
The removal of Saunders’ body was beyond the imagination of any decent person, Justice Burns said.
“But you’re not a decent person, far from it,” he told Roser.
The Crown alleged that Sharon Graham had asked her lovers Roser and Koenig to kill her ex-partner Saunders and make it look like an accident in an attempt to claim his $750,000 life insurance policy.
Koenig claimed Roser Saunders hit the bar repeatedly when they finished work on the property.
He told the court he helped get the body to the shredder because Roser had a bad back.
Roser had pointed the finger at Koenig, who he believes had connections to the mafia and once boasted of pushing a man into a meat grinder.
Graham lived with Saunders, albeit in separate bedrooms, and was in a relationship with Roser while also having “intimate relationships” with Koenig.
Roser said Graham had been plotting to kill Saunders for months, asking him to carry out up to three different murder plans – at one point borrowing Koenig’s gun – but he refused.
She eventually came up with an idea to make it look like a chipper accident, this time with a rope in both Koenig and Roser, the court heard.
Roser admitted Graham bought it and lied that the death was an accident, even telling police he was trying to rescue Saunders, who he says was “reckless” around the shredder.
Graham, 61, and Roser had pleaded innocent to murder before the former successfully filed for a separate trial.
Koenig pleaded guilty to complicity in murder earlier this year.