A judge-only trial yesterday found two young men not guilty of the Grindr killing of 56-year-old Canberra man Peter Keeley.
Initially, three 17-year-old youths faced murder charges following the discovery of Peter Keeley’s body.
A dog walker found the body near the small NSW town of Broulee in February 2020. Peter Keeley had been bound with tape on his ankles, wrists and head.
However, only two of the accused, now aged 19 and 20, went to trial. Both pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to aggravated kidnapping.
Yesterday, Justice Walton found both not guilty of murder. However, he did find them guilty of detaining Mr Keeley with the intention of occasioning actual bodily harm.
Forensic pathologists who testified at the trial disagreed over Peter Keeley’s cause of death.
The prosecution witness believed Mr Keeley probably suffered cardiac arrest caused by a craniofacial trauma with airway obstruction following an assault. However, a defence pathologist argued methamphetamine in his system possibly contributed significantly to the death. The court heard testimony that Mr Keeley used the drug regularly over a period of years.
Justice Walton agreed that methamphetamine toxicity could not be ruled out as a cause of death. He said also that the Crown had not proven beyond reasonable doubt that craniofacial trauma combined with airway obstruction caused the death.
The court heard one of the accused youths arranged a meeting with Peter Keeley on Grindr.
Another had googled ‘does holding a metal object in your hand make a difference to your punch?’ before the meeting.
Justice Walton yesterday described the initial autopsy of the body as flawed. He said that despite a gag made from masking tape on Peter Keeley’s face, he could not conclude that suffocation caused his death.
Justice Walton described the premise that the victim could not breathe because the gag covered his mouth and nose as flawed.
He found the placement of the packing tape meant Peter Keeley could plausibly still breathe through his mouth.
The court previously heard one of the assailants rolled the deceased on his side before leaving the scene ‘so he wouldn’t choke on his tongue’.
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