Carly McBride murder: James Anthony Cunneen jailed for at least 4 years

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The man who helped Carly McBride’s jealous and violent partner dump the mother-of-two’s body in bushland has been sentenced to least four years in jail.

The final chapter in one of NSW’s most infamous missing persons cases played out in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Friday as James Anthony Cunneen was jailed.

Ms McBride was killed by her partner in 2014; however, her body was not discovered until two bushwalkers came across her remains in bushland near Scone in 2016.

Last year, Ms McBride’s partner at the time, Sayle Kenneth Newson, was sentenced to 27 years in jail after he was found to have killed her in a jealous rage.

The 31-year-old mother of two was last seen leaving a former partner’s Muswellbrook home 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 from that day.

Her body was discovered in a shallow grave in bushland, 25m from the road, with multiple fractures to her skull and spine.

At the time of her death, Ms McBride had been dating Newson for two months after they met at a drug rehabilitation centre.

“That relationship was marred by jealousy and possessiveness,” Judge Mahoney found, noting that Ms McBride deleted her Facebook a few days earlier because Newson became jealous over other men contacting her.

She suffered blunt force injuries at the hands of Newson, who was trained in mixed martial arts.

Cunneen, 31, was earlier this year found guilty of one count of being an accessory after the fact to murder after a jury found he helped Newson dump her body.

He pleaded not guilty but was found guilty by a jury in July following a trial.

He continued to categorically deny playing any role in covering up Ms McBride’s murder and lying to police to hinder their investigation, the court was told.

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 that Ms McBride died shortly after 2pm before her body was “callously” dumped by Newson and Cunneen in bushland at Owen’s Gap near Scone.

His defence argued he was not present when Ms McBride was murdered and he assisted Newson out of “misguided” loyalty.

Judge Mahoney said that Cunneen continued to support Newson despite knowing Ms McBride’s killer had been “motivated by anger and jealousy”.

After Ms Bride was killed, Cunneen and Newson took the back roads between Muswellbrook and Scone in an attempt to avoid point-to-point cameras.

The court was told Cunneen had lived in the area for years and assisted Newson in avoiding detection.

“It represented a choice by the offender to remain loyal to Newson ahead of the interests of Carly McBride, her family and the public generally,” Judge Mahony said.

Judge Mahony found that despite knowing Ms McBride had been murdered, Cunneen chose to stay loyal to Newson for nearly two years.

The court was told that in a text to a friend, Cunneen said: “I lost out big time, I gave everything to help someone get out of a bad situation. He’s a good mate.”

The court was told that Cunneen further said in the message that he was staying loyal because if the “tables were turned”, Newson was the “only person I know who would do it for someone else”, adding that it was hard to find “straight-up people”.

After she was last seen, Ms McBride was the face of Missing Persons Week up until her body was uncovered.

The court was told details of Cunneen’s lengthy criminal history that included drug and weapons offences.

He was in prison when he was arrested over his role in Ms McBride’s murder.

The court was told Cunneen had abused drugs since his teens and had been diagnosed with a drug disorder.

Cunneen hardly reacted on Friday as he was sentenced for 7½ years in prison with a four-year non parole period.

With time served, he will be eligible for release in May 2026.

Originally published as Carly McBride deletes Facebook before murder


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