The man who helped Carly McBride’s jealous and abusive partner dump the mother-of-two’s body in the bush has been sentenced to at least four years in prison.
The latest chapter in one of NSW’s most infamous missing persons cases unfolded at Downing Center District Court in Sydney on Friday as James Anthony Cunneen was jailed.
Ms McBride was killed by her partner in 2014; however, his body was only discovered when two hikers discovered his remains in the bush near Scone in 2016.
Last year, Ms McBride’s partner at the time, Sayle Kenneth Newson, was sentenced to 27 years in prison after being found guilty of killing her in a jealous rage.
The 31-year-old mother-of-two was last seen leaving the home of a former Muswellbrook partner at around 2pm on September 30, 2014.
At the time, she was last seen walking towards a McDonald’s and when her body was discovered in August 2016, she was still wearing the same clothes as that day.
His body was discovered in a shallow grave in the bush, 25 meters from the road, with multiple fractures to his skull and spine.
At the time of her death, Ms McBride had been dating Newson for two months after they met at a drug treatment centre.
“That relationship was marred by jealousy and possessiveness,” Judge Mahoney found, noting that Ms McBride had deleted her Facebook days earlier because Newson had become jealous of other men contacting her.
She suffered blunt force injuries at the hands of Newson, who was trained in mixed martial arts.
Cunneen, 31, was found guilty earlier this year of one count of aiding and abetting murder after a jury found he helped Newson dispose of her body.
He pleaded not guilty but was found guilty by a jury in July following a trial.
He continued to categorically deny playing a role in covering up Ms McBride’s murder and lying to police to obstruct their investigation, the court heard.
Judge Mahony said Cunneen lied to police in three interviews to create a false alibi for Newson and deleted phone data to cover their tracks.
The court was told Ms McBride died shortly after 2pm before her body was ‘ruthlessly’ thrown by Newson and Cunneen into the bush at Owen’s Gap near Scone.
His defense argued he was not present when Ms McBride was murdered and helped Newson out of ‘misguided’ loyalty.
Judge Mahoney said Cunneen continued to support Newson despite knowing Ms McBride’s killer had been ‘motivated by anger and jealousy’.
After Mrs. Bride’s death, Cunneen and Newson drove down the back roads between Muswellbrook and Scone in an attempt to avoid the point-to-point cameras.
The court heard that Cunneen had lived in the area for years and helped Newson avoid detection.
“It represented a choice by the offender to remain loyal to Newson before the interests of Carly McBride, her family and the public at large,” Judge Mahony said.
Judge Mahony found that despite knowing Mrs. McBride had been murdered, Cunneen chose to remain loyal to Newson for nearly two years.
The court was told that in a text message to a friend, Cunneen said: ‘I wasted a lot of time, I gave it my all to help someone out of a bad situation. He’s a good friend.
The court heard Cunneen further stated in the post that he remained loyal because if the ‘tables were flipped’ Newson was the ‘only person I know who would do it for someone else’, adding that it was difficult to find “honest people”.
After being last seen, Ms McBride was the face of Missing Persons Week until her body was discovered.
The court was told details of Cunneen’s long criminal history, which included drug and weapons offences.
He was in prison when he was arrested for his role in the murder of Ms McBride.
The court heard that Cunneen had abused drugs since he was a teenager and was diagnosed with a drug-related disorder.
Cunneen barely reacted on Friday when he was sentenced to 7 and a half years in prison with a period of four years without parole.
With time served, he can be released in May 2026.
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