An accused killer told police a young dad admitted to abusing children before he was allegedly executed by vigilantes, a court has heard.
On Wednesday, recordings of a two-day police interview with Jordan Bottom, 25, were played before a Supreme Court jury.
Mr Bottom, alongside co-accused’s Albert Thorn, 57, and Rikki Smith, 26, are facing trial over the alleged murder of Bradley Lyons.
Each has pleaded not guilty, with lawyers acting for Mr Bottom and Mr Smith pointing the finger at Mr Thorn, while his lawyer said his client wasn’t present at the alleged murder.
During the interview, Mr Bottom told police he was living in a caravan on Mr Thorn’s property when he was woken up on the afternoon of December 2, 2018.
“Albert woke me up and said he had a present for me in the boot,” he said.
“About half an hour later I went down and seen (sic) Bradley Lyons in there in a bad way … I didn’t know what to think.”
Prosecutors allege Mr Lyons was kidnapped from his home in the eastern Victorian town of Lakes Entrance and murdered in response to rumours he had been sexually abusing children.
His remains were located in a shallow grave more than three months later, allegedly after Mr Bottom agreed to take homicide investigators to the scene.
In the interview, Mr Bottom told interviewers he “didn’t want to be there”, but was afraid of Mr Thorn and followed his instructions.
“He’d lose it if he got angry … we (Mr Bottom and Mr Smith) didn’t want to put ourselves in danger,” he said.
He claimed he and Mr Smith took Mr Lyons from the car and strapped him to a metal massage table, where Albert Thorn allegedly “tortured” him for about 40 minutes.
“He (Mr Thorn) was just carrying on and swearing, calling him a paedophile,” he said.
“He (Mr Lyons) admitted to touching kids.”
Under questioning from Detective Senior Constable Andrew Walker, Mr Bottom said he did not know if it was a real confession.
“Honestly I can’t, I could not say whether it was him admitting it because he was genuinely admitting it or if he was scared for his life,” he said.
“We said we think that he had had enough and Bert got angry with us.
“He got in our face and he said to me; ‘I’ll say when he’s had enough, you shut the f--k up and do what I tell you’.”
The jury heard Mr Bottom felt he had “no choice” but to follow instructions when Mr Thorn allegedly directed him to drive the four men into remote bushland.
He claimed Mr Thorn dug the grave and shot Mr Lyons in the back of the head, while he and Mr Smith buried the body.
Mr Bottom told police on the drive back he was threatened by Mr Thorn, who allegedly told him; “If we ever spoke about it we would be in the hole as well”.
Once the recording ended, Justice Andrew Tinney warned jurors anything said by Mr Bottom could only be used as evidence against him.
Prosecutors earlier told the court the case against the three men was that each was complicit in the murder of Bradley Lyons.
Lawyers acting for Mr Bottom and Mr Smith have argued while their clients were present in the circumstances surrounding his death, neither man had murdered Mr Lyons.
“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 Mr Thorn’s barrister, James Anderson, said his client maintained Mr Lyons left his property alive with Mr Smith and Mr Bottom.
“Albert Thorn is a kidnapper but he is not a murderer,” he said.
“Bradley Lyons left the property alive in the boot of the Corolla.”
The trial continues.