Man sentenced over NSW murder cover-up

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A New South Wales man who helped a murderer dump a woman’s body in remote bushland and attempt to cover up his crime has been sentenced to at least four years in prison.

James Anthony Cunneen, 31, was found guilty of accessory after the fact to helping Sayle Kenneth Newson dump the body of murdered mother Carly McBride at Owens Gap, west of Scone in the NSW Hunter region, in September 2014.

He had pleaded not guilty.

Newson was sentenced to 27 years in prison in December 2021 after he violently beat Ms McBride to death in a “jealousy fit”.

Cunneen was sentenced in Downing Center District Court on Friday.

Ms McBride was at one point the face of missing persons week, before her unburied skeletal remains were found by walkers in the remote area where she was left nearly two years after her murder in August 2016.

Sentencing Cunneen on Friday, Judge Phillip Mahony said the offenses were committed at a time when Cunneen led a life of crime, being a chronic drug addict who was also charged with gun and drug offenses. drug supply at the same time.

“For a young man, he has already served a long period of detention,” Judge Mahony said.

He said the majority of Cunneen’s offenses stemmed from drug use

Cunneen’s assistance, local knowledge and silence helped Newson avoid detection, Judge Mahony said.

Cunneen knew to take secondary roads to the Owens Gap site to avoid point-to-point cameras on the New England route between Muswellbrook and Scone.

He also posted a photo of Ms McBride on a community Facebook page claiming she was a missing person on October 1, 2014, despite helping dispose of her body a day earlier.

Cunneen also remained silent about it for several years, hampering the police investigation and denying closure to Ms McBride’s family.

“This was not a simple failure by the perpetrator to report the murder,” Judge Mahony said.

His persistent silence had prevented Newson’s arrest for several years.

Judge Mahony determined that Cunneen’s actions were not the result of “mistaken loyalty” to the elder Newson.

Rather, it was a deliberate choice by Cunneen to put Newson’s interests ahead of Mrs McBride’s family and the wider community.

“I wasted a lot of time, I gave it my all to help someone out of a bad situation,” said messages Cunneen sent to a friend, read in court.

“He’s a good mate but that’s not why I did it,” Cunneen had emailed, saying Newson was the only person who would have helped him if things had changed.

The court had heard testimony that Cunneen was a model prisoner who had since abstained from drug use, but Judge Mahony did not accept assessments that he was at low risk to re-offend.

“Notwithstanding his abstinence… his prospects for rehabilitation must remain somewhat reserved,” Judge Mahony said.

Cunneen sat quietly in the dock during his sentencing, briefly greeting supporters in court before being led back to jail.

He will be eligible for parole in May 2026.

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