A gang of vigilantes tortured and killed a father of eight as they tried to force a confession out of him for crimes he didn’t commit.
The case of the brutal torture and murder of Bradley ‘BJ’ Lyons, which shook Australia in December 2018, is once again under the spotlight as a jury has brought to justice the gang leader, Albert Thorn, and some of his mates who helped during the hideous attack.
Mr Lyons was referred to the gang by his wife Jana Hooper, who had falsely accused her husband of sexually assaulting two of her teenage daughters.
Thorn, the leader of the vigilante gang with a specific hatred for paedophiles, was found guilty this month of the torture, imprisonment and murder of Mr Lyons. Later this year, he will face a pre-sentence hearing.
Two other members of the gang who took part in the ordeal, Jordan Bottom and Rikki Smith, were found not guilty last week of the killing of the father.
The pair, however, were found guilty of his assault and false imprisonment.
Hooper, who shared three biological children with Mr Lyons, had told Thorn she believed her husband was the father of her 16-year-old daughter’s child and had also made her 14-year-old daughter pregnant – but the court heard this was a lie.
CCTV footage shows Hooper “giving the nod” for the thugs to enter her marital home in Lakes Entrance, Victoria, as she was leading inside her husband.
Mr Lyons was jumped in his own home by Thorn and other members of the gang. He was beaten and had the barrel of a shotgun forced into his mouth by another gang member, Nicholas Stefani, in an attempt to have a confession regarding the sexual assault allegations made by his wife forced out of him.
The man would not be seen alive by his loved ones again after being stuffed into the boot of the car of his soon-to-be killer and being driven away.
Jessica MacFarlane, the then-girlfriend of Bottom, had been living in a caravan with him on Thorn’s Nyerimilang farm when he arrived with Mr Lyons still trapped in the boot of his car.
She told the Supreme Court of Victoria jury that Thorn had claimed to have had the father trapped in his car for up to 21 hours in sweltering temperatures.
Ms MacFarlane recalled to the jury to have tapped on the boot of the car and heard someone screaming from within. Recalling the chilling response, she said: “Get me out of here, or kill me now.”
Mr Lyons was eventually dragged out of the boot of Thorn’s car and taken to an old shed, where the torture began.
How the events then unfolded is not entirely clear, with one account claiming Mr Lyons’ hand was sawn off.
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The jury was told only 93 percent of Mr Lyons’ skeleton was recovered, with both feet, bones from his hands and a neck bone missing.
As Stefani was sentenced in December over his role in the horrific crime, the court heard a chainsaw was among the gang’s torture tools.
The court heard: “A chainsaw was held over his head to make him talk, he was punched, hot water from a kettle was poured on him, and Deep Heat was put on his body.”
Following the torture, which didn’t result in a confession, Mr Lyons was stuffed back into the boot of Thorn’s car.
Thorn, Smith and Bottom drove out into the wilderness along a dirt track near Double Bridges after wrapping towels around the victim’s head and binding his hands.
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The father had to wait while a shallow grave was dug before he was shot in the leg with a .410 shotgun cartridge.
After he was made to kneel, he was murdered with a shot placed into the back of his skull.
A party was later held at Thorn’s property, also attended by Mr Lyons’ wife and children, the court heard.
Hooper was jailed last year for seven-and-a-half years and will be eligible for parole after serving four-and-a-half.
Bottom would later lead the police to the burial site, which presented a log dragged over it.
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