Feet missing from vigilante victim: court

Jordan Bottom has pleaded not guilty to murder. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

Found bound and buried in a shallow grave in Victoria’s Gippsland region months after he vanished, the body of Bradley Lyons was missing both his feet, a court has been told.

Mr Lyons, 30, was abducted from his Lakes Entrance home after a morning shift at a nearby supermarket over rumours he had sexually molested children.

He was allegedly beaten, held captive for hours and summarily executed on an unnamed bush track near Double Bridges on December 2, 2018.

This week, the trial of three men accused of his murder, Albert Thorn, 57, Jordan Bottom, 24, and Rikki Smith, 25, was told the investigation into his disappearance had found no evidence to substantiate the rumours.

On Thursday, forensic anthropologist Samantha Rowbotham told the court it was her conclusion that Mr Lyons died from a shotgun blast to the back of his head.

Lakes Entrance man Bradley Lyons was allegedly murdered over the mistaken belief he had been abusing children. Picture: Supplied
Lakes Entrance man Bradley Lyons was allegedly murdered over the mistaken belief he had been abusing children. Picture: Supplied

Referencing crime scene photos shown to the jury, she said he was found bound with tape, cable ties, a phone charging cable and fabric strips, while two tea towels were strapped to his head.

The jury was told only 93 per cent of Mr Lyons’ skeleton was recovered, with both feet, bones from his hands and a neck bone missing.

Under cross-examination, she said it was “likely” the result of animal predation.

“Most of the bones missing are from the feet and the area around the ankles was exposed to the surface,” she said.

“I think the most logical explanation would be animal scavenging, but I don’t have any evidence to show that.”

Mr Lyons’ body was allegedly recovered after Jordan Bottom (pictured) told police he would take them to the gravesite. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

Earlier this week, Crown prosecutor Raymond Gibson KC told the court it was the prosecution’s case that the three accused men were complicit and participated voluntarily in Mr Lyons’ death.

“This was nothing short of vigilante action,” he said.

“People taking the law into their own hands and dishing out vigilante justice.”

He said Mr Lyons’ body was recovered in March the following year after Mr Bottom allegedly volunteered to lead police to the scene because it was the “right thing to do”.

Lawyers acting for Mr Bottom and Mr Smith have argued before the jury that while their clients were present and involved in the circumstances surrounding his death, neither man had murdered Mr Lyons.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NewsWire Photos - 26 APRIL, 2023: Rikki Smith, accused of murdering Bradley Lyons, pictured being led into Supreme Court in Melbourne.  Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty
Rikki Smith (pictured), Albert Thorn and Jordan Bottom are on trial over the alleged vigilante murder of Mr Lyons. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

Instead, they told the jury their clients pointed the finger at Mr Thorn for allegedly firing the fatal shot.

“He didn't know what was going to happen,” Mr Bottom’s barrister David Cronin said.

“He didn't think it would go that far and that he held fears for his safety.”

But James Anderson, Mr Thorn’s barrister, said his client denied being present when Mr Lyons died.

“Albert Thorn is a kidnapper but he is not a murderer,” he said.

He told the court his client had admitted to assaulting and kidnapping Mr Lyons but said he remained at his home when Mr Bottom, Mr Smith and Mr Lyons left.

The jury was told Mr Thorn had pleaded guilty to kidnapping and false imprisonment, while he and Mr Smith had admitted to intentionally injuring Mr Lyons at his home.

Mr Bottom has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and false imprisonment, while all three men have entered pleas of not guilty to murder.

The trial, before Justice Andrew Tinney, continues.