Three South Coast teenagers were arrested this morning and charged with the murder of a father of three in an alleged targeted robbery, write Eva Pang and Matthew Gordon.
The body of Peter Keely, a 56-year-old Canberra man, was found tied up and dumped in bushland near Broulee 11 days ago, after arranging to meet one of the 17-year-olds on the gay dating app Grindr.
A post-mortem failed to determine the cause of his death, but he had suffered severe head and facial injuries.
Police raided three homes in Broulee at 6am this morning and took two boys to Batemans Bay police station, where they were later charged with murder and detaining and harming Peter Keely. A third boy was arrested at a home in the Broulee area just before 3pm and charged with the same offences.
All three were refused bail and appeared at a children’s court later in the day.
At least one of those arrested is a schoolboy and all were taken into custody in front of their “shocked” parents, according to police.
“Both boys have no prior history with crime and weren’t known to police,” Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty told a press conference at Parramatta police station this morning, after the arrest of the first two boys.
None of the boys can be named because of their age.
Detectives say the motive could be drug-related, a robbery gone wrong or a gay hate crime, and are continuing to investigate.
DS Doherty said: “Multiple dating apps were used in communication, with dating app Grindr confirmed as the method of communication that links Keely to one of the teenagers.”
Keely recently split from his wife, with whom he had three children, he was an auctioneer and, according to some reports, had recently fallen on hard times.
The family are devastated by the loss and asked for privacy.
“Our family is devastated and still coming to terms with the fact we have lost Peter,” they said in a statement.
“All that can be said is we have been deeply affected by this tragedy and we are still grieving. We are grateful for the overwhelming support from family and friends.
“As we continue to process this news, our family has requested privacy at this time to allow us to support Peter’s children.”