Three 17-year-old boys are set to face trial later this year in News South Wales for the murder of a 56-year-old Canberra man Peter Keeley. 

Keeley was a real estate agent, an auctioneer and past president of West Belconnen Junior Rugby League Football Club. Keeley’s battered body was found on February 2 last year in bushland at Broulee, around 20 kilometres south of Batemans Bay, NSW. 

According to the NSW police, one of the teenagers had communicated with Keeley on the gay dating app Grindr, before they met and allegedly brutally murdered him. The accused cannot be identified because of their ages. Police had said they were exploring all possible motives for the murder, including if it was a “gay hate crime”

Teens Plead ‘Not Guilty’

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Two of the teenagers pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the murder charge when they appeared before the Supreme Court via audio-visual link, earlier this week, the ABC reported. The trial will be held in Sydney. Justice Robert Hulme scheduled the trial to start on August 9 and it is expected to last four weeks.

The case of the third teenager is before the Batemans Bay Children’s Court, with a hearing scheduled for March 29. His case has not been committed to the Supreme Court yet and he hasn’t entered a plea either. According to the ABC, the crown solicitor told the court at a hearing that an offer had been made and this was being considered.

All three accused have had their bail applications refused by the courts. At one of the bail hearings, a local court had remarked that the prosecution’s case was “very strong”, while the police had opposed bail saying the accused posed an “unacceptable risk to the community”.

Keeley’s body was found last year by a man walking his dog in Broulee. The body  was tied with a duct tape and had suffered head and facial injuries.

Accused had communicated over Grindr

The police said that the Canberra man had driven to Bateman’s Bay in his friend’s car on February 2, 2020. The police investigations very early on had focussed on the person/s he had supposedly arranged to meet on Grindr that day. The communications through Grindr led the police to find Keeley had been communicating with one of the accused.

The police had told the court during bail hearings that the fingerprints of one of the teenager accused of the murder was found on the duct tape that was used to bind Keeley’s wrists.

Keeley’s family had issued a statement last year that the family was “devastated and still coming to terms with the fact we have lost Peter. All that can be said is we have been deeply affected by this tragedy and we are still grieving… As we continue to process this news, our family has requested privacy at this time to allow us to support Peter’s children.”

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

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