Vigilante Nick Stefani makes appeal bid for early release over Bradley Lyons kidnapping

A vigilante jailed for his role in kidnapping a young dad over rumours he was a pedophile has launched a legal fight to cut his prison sentence.

Nick Stefani, 29, appeared in the Victorian Court of Appeal on Wednesday, remaining silent as his barrister Theo Alexander argued there was a “disparity” between his client’s sentence and those of his co-offenders.

Stefani was jailed for a decade in December 2022 after pleading guilty to the kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault and injury of Bradley Lyons four years earlier.

He will be eligible for parole after eight years in custody, a “stern” non-parole period Dr Alexander took issue with.

“Our basic contention is there is no explanation provided by His Honour,” he said at an earlier hearing.

“That 80 per cent figure invites scrutiny … there is no absolutely clear justification for the non-parole period.”

The barrister said others involved in the attack on Mr Lyons had received sentences with a larger gap between their head sentence and parole eligibility, arguing Justice Andrew Tinney had failed to explain the reason for this.

He told the court Stefani had been a model prisoner in custody, using his time as a peer educator and youth mentor.

Mr Lyons, a 30-year-old father-of-three, was ambushed in bed by a group calling themselves the “Australian Freedom Fighters” over rumours swirling around the Lakes Entrance community that he had abused children.

He was attacked, tied up and driven to a remote farming property where he was tortured in an effort to extract a “confession”.

Stefani was found to have played an “instrumental” role in planning and recruiting others to the cause, but ceased involvement after carrying the bound an “bleeding profoundly” Mr Lyons from his home to the car.

Dr Alexander told the court his client had “originally floated” the idea the group should drop Mr Lyons at a police station with a recorded confession, and did not know he would ultimately be murdered.

Representing the crown, barrister Greg Buchhorn argued the sentence imposed was appropriate for the “brutal and frightening” offending.

“He was instrumental in devising what would take place and responsible for recruiting others,” he said.

“When he was talking to others he was bragging about his handiwork … It speaks incredibly poorly of the appellant’s moral culpability”.

Mr Buchhorn argued the “omission” of Justice Tinney’s reasons for imposing a shorter period of parole eligibility was “not enough” to justify the court’s intervention.

Seven people have now been jailed over their roles in Mr Lyons’ assault, kidnapping and murder – including Albert Thorn who was handed a life sentence in December for executing and burying him in a shallow bush grave.

Justice Tinney’s judgment said there was no evidence to support the claims Mr Lyons had abused children.

Justices Stephen McLeish, Kristen Walker and Lesley Taylor reserved their decision on the case.

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