Police are reportedly investigating a love triangle motive in the grisly murder of popular country butcher Bruce Saunders.

Saunders, 54, died after he became trapped in a woodchipper while clearing a female friend's property at Goomboorian near Gympie in Queensland last November.

When police were called to the "horrific" scene after Saunders was said to have fallen into the vegetation shredder, they initially thought it was a tragic accident.

Bruce Saunders' death was first thought to be a tragic accident.
Bruce Saunders' death was first thought to be a tragic accident.

It was around 7.40pm on Sunday, November 12, and Saunders was mulching branches with the woodchipper when it was just beginning to get dark.

Advertisement

It was his third weekend helping out "as an act of goodwill' to a woman who had been recently widowed.

Working with Saunders on the property, which is around 200km north of Brisbane in a diverse farming district, were two other adult males.

Saunders became caught in the woodchipper and died.

Gympie Police acting inspector Paul Algie later said after visiting the property that it was "one of the worst incident scenes I've ever seen".

Homicide

HOMICIDE: Police and SES comb a rural property at Goomboorian on February 4, looking for further clues relating to the suspicious death of a 54-year-old man. He died in November 2017 following an incident involving an industrial wood chipper.

Posted by Queensland Police Service on Thursday, 8 February 2018

Inspector Algie said at the time the two male friends tried to save Saunders after he became entangled in branches and was dragged into the woodchipper.

"It was actually quite horrific. His friends discovered him as he became entangled and attempted to extract him from the shredder and were unable to do so. So they're obviously quite traumatised now," Inspector Algie said at the time.

But after reinterviewing the two men and other witnesses, detectives raided the property earlier this month and seized "items of interest".

Detective Inspector Gary Pettiford announced last week that the death was now the subject of a homicide investigation and officers had several "promising lines" of inquiries.

Advertisement

Insp Pettiford said Gympie detectives were contacted by people who knew Saunders and had suggested his death might not have been an accident.

"We've now reached an informed conclusion that the death of Mr Saunders is suspicious," he said.

Police image of the type of wood chipper involved in the November death of Bruce Saunders.
Police image of the type of wood chipper involved in the November death of Bruce Saunders.

Queensland Police told news.com.au that detectives were investigating several possible motives since declaring Saunders' death was the result of foul play.

A love triangle was among the possible lines of inquiry.

Saunders had operated a Bundaberg butchery, which had been in the family for two generations, until it closed in 2016.

He then moved south to the Sunshine Coast city of Nambour and following a relationship breakup had started a new romance.

Police say the woman who owned the property on which Saunders was helping out when he died is not linked to his death.