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Peter Keeley's Supreme Court murder trial hears teens, not drugs, caused 56-year-old's Broulee death

Broulee is a small town on the New South Wales South Coast. (ABC South East NSW: Holly Tregenza)

A Crown prosecutor has urged the New South Wales Supreme Court to find the death of a Canberra man was caused by injuries allegedly inflicted by three teenage boys rather than the methamphetamine later found in his system.

The body of 56-year-old Peter Keeley was found in bushland in the small coastal town of Broulee in February 2020.

He had tape on his ankles, wrists and head.

Three boys, then aged 17, were charged with his murder.

Two of them, now aged 19 and 20, are facing a judge-only trial in the Supreme Court.

They have each pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to aggravated kidnapping.

In a police interview played in court, one of the accused said he thought Mr Keeley was a paedophile.

The court heard differing opinions as to what caused Peter Keeley's death. (Supplied: NSW Police)

Disagreement on cause of death

In her closing address, Crown prosecutor Nerrisa Keay acknowledged there was disagreement on the cause of death between the two forensic pathologists who gave evidence during the trial.

But she urged the court to rely on the analysis of Bernard I'Ons, who found Mr Keeley died due to suffocation and a brain injury sustained during the attack.

The other expert witness called by the defence, Johan Duflou, testified he did not find it plausible that Mr Keeley could have died from suffocation and trauma to the head.

Peter Keeley's body was found in this stretch of bushland. (ABC South East NSW: Holly Tregenza)

But Ms Keay said Dr Duflou failed to acknowledge new research that suggested the type of head injury sustained by Mr Keeley could in fact cause his death, and said he had changed his mind about the possibility of suffocation during the course of giving evidence.

An autopsy revealed Mr Keeley had 0.42 grams of methamphetamine in his blood at the time of his death.

The court heard he had been using the drug regularly over a period of years.

Ms Keay told the court it was unreasonable to suggest it was the methamphetamine in Mr Keeley's system, and not the assault itself, that caused his death.

"He died with methamphetamine in his system," she said.

Ms Keay also pointed the court to Dr I'Ons's earlier testimony, in which he said that even if Mr Keeley had been found uninjured he would have been cautious to say he died from methamphetamine toxicity.

"If Peter Keeley had not been assaulted and restrained he would probably still be alive," Ms Keay said.

But defence lawyers for the two boys argued that the drugs in Mr Keeley's system contributed significantly to his death.

The court heard that one of the accused told police Mr Keeley was covered in dirt but groaning and breathing before all three left the scene, and that there was "no intention to kill him".

Defence barrister Clive Steirn will make his closing arguments on Monday.

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Dive Deeper:
'Extensive assault' caused bound and gagged auctioneer's death, court told
A prosecutor has argued drugs found in the system of a Canberra auctioneer did not cause his death on the…
Trial of accused murderers focuses on drug overdose as cause of death
Two forensic pathology experts have mostly disagreed about whether drugs in an alleged murder victim caused his death.
Peter Keeley murder trial hears differences in expert testimony may be grounds for acquittal
The NSW Supreme Court is told that if crucial differences in the forensic evidence given by two experts cannot be…
Meth overdose possibly killed auctioneer found bound in bushland: lawyer
Peter Keeley was found dead after chatting with a 17-year-old on Grindr.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Trial over alleged murder of Canberra man Peter Keeley hears of accused's fingerprints on tape
Police witnesses and forensic pathologists have given evidence on day two of the alleged murder trial of Canberra man Peter…
No 'silver-bullet cause of death' as experts disagree in murder trial
Two forensic pathologists have disagreed about the cause of death of ACT auctioneer Peter Keeley.
Get all your news in one place