Newly revealed footage shows the tense build-up to the brutal ‘vigilante’ murder of a father-of-eight in Australia after over false rumours he abused girls.
Bradley Lyons’s own wife, Jana Hooper, helped self-styled ‘paedophile hunters’ corner him in their house before the gang kidnapped him and tortured him to try and extract a confession in December 2018.
A court was told Mr Lyons was beaten, scalded with hot water from a kettle, covered in Deep Heat and had a chainsaw held over his head until he wet himself.
After refusing to admit to the accusations – which were baseless – shot dead and buried in a shallow grave in a bushland.
When he was found, both his feet, several bones from his hands and a neck bone were missing – but the gang’s meth abuse made it impossible to piece together their recollections of how this came to be, according to Daily Mail Australia.
Reports suggest the rumours stemmed from Hooper and a tenant of Mr Lyons, Nick Stefani, who rented a bungalow at the rear of their house in Lakes Entrance, Victoria.
Stefani was part of a group of at least six men who started a club to target paedophiles, calling themselves the Australian Freedom Fighters Group.
Hooper, who shared three children with Mr Lyons, is said to have told the gang’s ringleader, 57-year-old Albert Thorn, that she believed her husband had abused two of her daughters from a previous relationship.
She said he was the father of her 16-year-old daughter’s baby and had also impregnated her 14-year-old daughter, but a court heard both claims were lies, Daily Mail Australia added.
The gang started organising the attack after Stefani started believing Mr Lyons was a paedophile, ABC News reported.
He set about circulating the ‘flimsy claims’, which led to Thorn and two other ‘Australian Freedom Fighters’, Alec Harvey and Rikki Smith, orchestrating the attack.
CCTV taken from a neighbour’s security camera shows Mr Lyons following his wife into their home, where he was beaten with a metal pole by the group and had a shotgun thrust into his mouth – before being bundled into Thorn’s car.
The victim was taken to Thorn’s mother’s property, where he was thrown inside a shed, tied to a massage table and tortured into the early hours of the following day.
He was then put in the boot again and driven to the remote wilderness near Double Bridges, where Thorn shot him in the knee and head with a shotgun before ordering Smith and another accomplice Jordan Bottom, to bury him.
Thorn then told his eight-year-old daughter he had killed a man who was ‘rude to children’ and warned her ‘not to tell a single soul’ – but she bravely helped convict him by giving police a detailed statement.
Thorn was found guilty of murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment and intentionally injuring someone and will be sentenced at a later hearing.
His co-conspirators were either not charged with murder or found not guilty of the crime after claiming they did not realise he planned to kill Mr Lyons.
Stefani received a 10-year sentence for intentionally causing injury, kidnapping, false imprisonment and common law assault. Harvey, who disposed of the gun, got eight-and-a-half years.
Hooper was jailed last year for seven-and-a-half years for her role.
Smith, 26, and Bottom, 25, were found guilty of assault and unlawful imprisonment earlier this month and will be sentenced at a later hearing.
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