A former heavy drug user involved in the terrifying torture of a man later shot dead will be eligible for parole in little more than a year.
Jordan Bottom and Rikki Smith were jovial on Friday as they entered the Supreme Court of Victoria, greeting a crowd of waiting supporters before their sentence for the brutal assault of Bradley Lyons.
The pair - then aged 20 and 21, respectively - were in 2018 part of a group that decided to assault Lyons over circulating rumours he had sexually abused children.
When Lyons was attacked in the bedroom of his home on December 2, Smith punched him five or six times and held a cigarette lighter to strengthen the impact of his blows.
He later told police he was “just throwing a few head punches to a paedophile”.
Lyons was bound and bundled into a car boot before being driven to a property, where ringleader and now-convicted murderer Albert Thorn knocked on Bottom’s caravan door and showed him Lyons in his car boot.
Bottom and Smith joined Thorn and others in deciding what to do next before Bottom secured Lyons to a massage table and participated in his torture.
The group wanted to get a confession out of Lyons after he protested his innocence.
Once the group felt Lyons was tortured enough, he was again tied up - this time, with an array of bindings “extraordinary in its detail”, Judge Andrew Tinney said.
Thorn, with Bottom and Smith in the car, drove Lyons to a remote bushland area.
Thorn shot Lyons to the back of the head at close range with a shotgun.
Bottom and Smith helped fill in his shallow grave, which was covered with branches and leaves.
By the time his body was discovered it was so badly decomposed an autopsy couldn’t determine the extent of any soft-tissue injuries, but revealed he suffered a shotgun wound to the head, a broken jaw and cheekbone.
Justice Tinney noted both Bottom and Smith were young at the time of the attack and had a history of abusing substances from an early age.
Bottom’s brother died in a car collision when he was 11, and he moved out of home at the age of 15 before he later started using the drug ice daily.
Smith’s childhood was impoverished and marred by trauma, as well as the loss of his parents. Both men had mental health issues, the court was told.
The judge said their circumstances had to be weighed against the seriousness of their offending, which had left Lyons’ family haunted.
His mother could not rid her mind of what happened to her son, and his stepdaughter felt she and her siblings had been humiliated, the court was told.
Lyons - a father of three children and several step-children - was precious to his community and those who loved him, Justice Tinney said.
”(Your offending) at its heart was a decision to engage in totally unacceptable vigilante behaviour,” he told Bottom and Smith during sentencing.”
“(It was) carried out with truly chilling callousness towards another human being.”
The pair wanted to inflict complete terror on Lyons and achieved that, Justice Tinney said. Both men have already served 1730 days in prison and were acquitted by a jury of murder.
The judge sentenced Bottom - who had an offer to plead guilty to manslaughter rejected by prosecutors - to a total of nine years in prison for false imprisonment and assault. He will be eligible for parole after about one year and three months, in February 2025.
Justice Tinney sentenced Smith to a total of 10 years and six months in prison for false imprisonment, assault and intentionally causing serious injury.
He will be eligible for parole after about two years and three months, in February 2026.
Thorn was jailed for life for the kidnapping and killing of Lyons earlier this month.