Grindr death: Teen vigilante jailed for ambushing Canberra man lured into compound

Three misguided young vigilantes who brutally assaulted, tied up and left a Canberra man for dead are being released from juvenile detention before their 22nd birthdays.

Peter Keeley died after being lured to a remote area in Broulee on the south NSW coast in anticipation of meeting an 18-year-old man for sex.

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Instead, a 17-year-old posing as a young adult on hook-up app Grindr began beating him before his two bushland buddies emerged to join the ambush.

“These were three youths who were friends and, apart from a few illicit drug users, were law-abiding and of good character,” NSW Supreme Court Justice Michael Walton said on Tuesday.

“The offense was guided by a dangerous and misguided idea which, according to (one boy), ‘everything went terribly wrong’.”

Peter Keeley died after being lured to a remote area in the expectation of meeting an 18-year-old man for sex. Recognition: AAP

In the attack on February 2, 2020, Keeley was repeatedly punched in the face.

He fought back and sustained a defensive wound to his arm before falling to the ground where his ankles and wrists were bound.

A teenager then taped him before the trio dragged him to a power pole, stood him up and left.

“It was undoubtedly a frightening experience for the deceased,” the judge said.

“When he was left behind, he was in a very vulnerable position – unable to move or call for help. He was left alone in a remote area.”

His body was found later that day.

Dirt was found on his battered face, while the teen’s DNA matched that found on the tape around Keeley’s limbs.

The boys were arrested 11 days after the fatal attack.

“I didn’t do it on purpose, it was an accident, I didn’t want it to happen,” the organizer of the ambush told his father when police arrived.

This boy, a 12th grade student, had started writing to Keeley on Grindr on February 1st and learned of the man’s apparent keen interest in young men and girls, including those under the age of 18.

After organizing a meeting with the Canberra man in Broulee, he contacted his two friends about a plan to mug Keeley and carry out vigilante justice.

The then 17-year-old teenagers were each charged with murder, but two were acquitted in court that year, prompting prosecutors to drop the murder charges against the third teenager.

Instead, each defendant pleaded guilty to detaining a person with particular aggravation.

Judge Walton said the now-adults had done well in juvenile detention, had good prospects for rehabilitation and were unlikely to reoffend.

All have shown genuine remorse and understanding of their insult, he said.

He ordered the organizer, now 20, to serve a minimum of three years and 10 months in prison. An accomplice, now 19, was jailed until January 2023, while the third offender, who suffers from significant mental health problems, is eligible for parole from Tuesday.

After hearing medical experts’ fears that the young men would “fall through the cracks” if transferred to an adult prison, Judge Walton ordered prison authorities to allow the men to serve their sentences in juvenile detention serve.

Boy in critical condition after being hit by a car.

Boy in critical condition after being hit by a car. Grindr death: Teen vigilante jailed for ambushing Canberra man lured into compound

James Brien

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