‘Odd’ phone picture sparks murder probe

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An “odd” image in a missing man’s phone raised police concerns for his safety, a trial has heard.

Bradley Lyons, 30, was reported missing by his brother on December 11, 2018, after not hearing from him for more than a week.

Police attended the Lakes Entrance home he shared with his wife Jana Hooper, their three young children and four of Ms Hooper’s from previous relationships later the same day.

Three men, Albert Thorn, 57, Rikki Smith, 25, and Jordan Bottom, 24, are standing trial in Victoria’s Supreme Court on allegations they executed Mr Lyons over rumours he was a paedophile.

Each has pleaded not guilty to murder and are fighting the charges.

On Thursday, Detective Senior Constable Derek Verity recounted attending Mr Lyon’s home to investigate the missing man report.

The jury heard Mr Lyon’s body was discovered more than four months after he vanished. Picture: SuppliedThe jury heard Mr Lyon’s body was discovered more than four months after he vanished. Picture: Supplied

He told the jury he spoke with Ms Hooper who said she had woken up on December 3 and noticed he was gone.

He said he climbed into the home’s roof cavity after the then-35-year-old told him she believed Mr Lyons had “installed cameras in the bathroom exhaust fan”.

Detective Senior Constable Verity said there was “no evidence” of cameras or signs of movement in the dust, but he noticed CCTV camera cables running to the home’s exterior.

He said the master bedroom had the equipment for recording and monitoring the cameras, but questioned Ms Hooper about a missing hard drive.

“She informed me it had been missing for some time,” he said.

Detective Senior Constable Verity told the jury later the same day he was inspecting Mr Lyons mobile phone, noticing a single photo of a TV with the CCTV recording playing.

“I thought it was a bit odd considering Ms Hooper said the hard drive had been missing,” he said.

Rikki Smith. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David CroslingRikki Smith. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David CroslingJordan Bottom. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David GeraghtyJordan Bottom. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

Prosecutors allege four men, including Mr Thorn and Mr Smith, stormed the family home in the afternoon of December 2, catching Mr Lyon’s by surprise in his bed.

They attacked and restrained him, before Mr Thorn bundled him into the boot of a car and drove him to his rural farming property – about 10 minutes away in Nyerimilang.

Earlier in the trial, crown prosecutor Raymond Gibson KC said it was alleged Ms Hooper handed the hard drive to one of the men before they left.

The jury heard Mr Thorn has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and false imprisonment, while he and Mr Smith have admitted to intentionally injuring Mr Lyons at his home.

All three accused men have denied what police allege happened next.

Mr Gibson said the case alleged the trio tied Mr Lyons to a metal massage table and further assaulted him in an effort to get him to confess to sexually abusing children.

They then allegedly drove Mr Lyons to a dirt track near Double Bridges in Victoria’s Gippsland region, dug a shallow grave and shot him with a .410 calibre shotgun.

Mr Lyons disappeared from the town of Lakes Entrance on Victoria’s eastern coast. Picture: Destination GippslandMr Lyons disappeared from the town of Lakes Entrance on Victoria’s eastern coast. Picture: Destination Gippsland

“The prosecution case is that all three men on trial here were complicit in the murder of Bradley Lyons … all three men voluntarily participated in the summary execution,” Mr Gibson said.

“This was nothing short of vigilante action.”

Mr Thorn’s barrister, James Anderson, told the court Mr Lyon’s left his client’s home alive with the other two accused men.

But lawyers acting for Mr Bottom and Mr Smith claim their clients had been present in the events surrounding Mr Lyon’s alleged murder, but did not kill him.

The trial before Justice Andrew Tinney, continues.

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