Robin Reid (born 20 October 1948) is an
Australian criminal currently serving a life sentence at Goulburn
Correctional Centre for the sexual assault, torture and murder of 13-year-old
Brisbane schoolboy, Peter Aston in 1982.
Robin Reid was born in Hampshire, England, and
migrated to Australia with his family in 1961, where they settled in
Queensland. He worked in laboring and sales, and at some point
developed an interest with various knives, bows and arrows. Reid
joined the Army in 1972, and was stationed at Enoggera, where he met
his future accomplice, 17 year old Paul Luckman. The two became close,
sharing interests in weapons, violence, sexual torture fantasies,
Satanism and homosexuality; Reid was given the army base nickname "Head-job
On the morning of 4 May 1982, Brisbane schoolboy
Peter Aston decided to hitchhike to his hometown of Melbourne to join
his brother. Peter's school friend, Terry Ryan, agreed to keep him
company until he reached the Gold Coast, and then planned to go back
The two caught the train to Beenleigh and bought
some clothes, then proceeded to hitchhike south, down the gold coast
highway. After a short while they came across a yellow 4WD Daihatsu
and its occupants Reid and Luckman, who offered to give the boys a
lift down the coast.
Not long on the road, the two boys were threatened
at knife and gunpoint by the two men, who then drove the car over the
Queensland/New South Wales border, into the beach-side town of
Kingscliff, where they forced the two boys out of the car and down a
secluded beach track.
Reid and Luckman then bound, sexually assaulted and
savagely beat the two boys. Terry was also forced by the two men to
bash and assault his friend Peter. Peter Aston was stabbed, tortured
and eventually buried alive. By this point, Terry Ryan had reasoned
with his attackers and they agreed to drive him home.
Terry later told police - "They got everything they
had, put it in the car and drove off, and me too, and they drove me
back home. While we were driving they told me that they were Satan
worshippers and they had to do it [kill Peter Aston] for the sacrifice."
Terry Ryan immediately told his mother, who drove
him to the police station to report the horrendous kidnapping, and
murder of his friend. Robin Reid and Paul Luckman attempted to escape
in a car they stole from a fellow army private at the Enoggera army
base. The two were apprehended on the New England Highway. Further
evidence and weapons were found in the pair's stolen car.
At the army base, a search was conducted of the
room that Robin Reid shared with Paul Luckman. Police took possession
of several of Reid’s swords, spears and counted 37 knives of different
shapes and sizes. Further search among various books of gay literature
and Satanism in Reid and Luckman's room revealed a photograph album
containing clusters of men’s pubic hair taped onto each page. Police
also found a notebook,in which one of them had handwritten essays
about leading a boy down a bush track at knife point and then holding
him in a headlock with a knife at his throat while he undressed him.
Robin Reid and Paul Luckman were formally charged
with the murder of Peter Aston, and Reid was also charged with
threatening to inflict bodily harm on Terry Ryan. They were refused
bail and taken into custody.
Robin Reid was taken by police on a tour of the
murder scene, where he explained in intricate detail exactly what
happened on the night of the murder. Police reported he boasted
proudly of sick exploits, and seemed to be immensely enjoying his “15
minutes of fame”.
Reid and Luckman's committal hearing was held at
Tweed Heads Court on 4 August. At the time of the hearing there was
massive public outrage, media coverage and death threats aimed at the
two child murderers. The case was transferred to the Sydney Supreme
Court with a jury of three women and nine men. The trial began on 8
November 1982. Paul Luckman pleaded 'not guilty' and Robin Reid
pleaded 'not guilty by reason of insanity'.
Although they were partners in the horrific murder,
Reid and Luckman tried franticly to blame each other for the slaying.
Despite both men’s attempts to lay blame on the other, Reid and
Luckman were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 1990, Paul Luckman, who considered himself to be
female, changed his name by deed poll to Nicole Louise Pearce, grew
long hair and commenced daily hormone treatment to grow breasts but
did not undergo sex-change operation surgery at that time.
Consequently, in the early nineties, he was confined at Cooma near the
Snowy Mountains in Southern New South Wales, in a jail for male sex
offenders. While there, she was known by the name Pearce and treated
as a woman but still had a penis at that time and was granted a degree
of privacy during shower time. On 26 October 1999, she was released
from the Kirkconnell Correctional Centre, a minimum security male-only
facility in inland New South Wales. If surgery was ever carried out,
it was done after her confinement at Cooma, probably after confinement
Since imprisonment, Robin Reid has been kept in
protective custody for his own safety. Reid applied for a re-determination
of his sentence on 26 November 1998, and was re-sentenced to life
imprisonment with a non-parole period of 24 years, meaning that he
would be eligible for parole in 2006. In March 2010, Reid had his
third parole application rejected.
The murder of Peter Aston was depicted in the Crime
Investigation Australia episode "Buried Alive: Luckman and Reid".
Paul Luckman & Robin Reid:
Australian Child Killers
by Paul B. Kidd
An Astonishing Story
On the night of
May 4, 1982, 13-year-old Terry Ryan rushed into his family home in
Marsden, a suburb of Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland
in northeastern Australia, and told his mother an astonishing story.
Terry said that he had been forced by two men to participate in the
sexual assault and prolonged torture and murder of his best friend. He
said his friend’s body had been buried in a shallow grave in scrubland
about 60 kilometers south, over the New South Wales border, near the
seaside hamlet of Kingscliff. Belita Ryan immediately rang police, and
then accompanied her son to the nearby Beenleigh Police Station.
In the early
hours of May 5, Terry retold his story to Sergeant Wayne King and
Detective Senior Constable Robert Guteridge of the Queensland Criminal
Investigation Branch. At approximately 4:45 that morning, the
detectives drove Terry and his mother over the border into New South
Wales to Tweed Heads Police Station, where they were joined by Senior
Constable Mark Ferguson, a local detective. On the boy’s instructions,
they first drove to and examined the contents of a garbage bin in
nearby Foux Park. Then, they examined the sink, walls, urinal and
cubicle of a local public toilet. From there, they proceeded south
along the Coast Road and about three kilometers past Kingscliff until
the boy told them to stop the car at a bush track leading east toward
Terry led his
mother and the detectives along the sandy track into the scrub, but
the trail petered out to nothing. There was no bush grave as he had
described. If this was a teenage prank, it was quite an elaborate one.
By the time the detectives had explored another three bush trails with
no result, their patience was wearing thin. The fourth track they
investigated seemed more promising, with fresh tire tracks on the
sandy surface. Terry became excited and led the way, pointing
enthusiastically at the tread marks. After about 200 meters, the track
opened onto a roughly cleared area and the tire tracks disappeared
into bushland on the other side of it. “There … in there,” Terry Ryan
said as he pointed into the foliage. “It’s in there.”
led the way, and as they entered the track, they came across a
grave-sized mound of earth off to the north-east. It was covered with
small tree branches and twigs obviously broken from the nearby trees.
Terry stepped back into his mother’s arms and began to cry as the
police officers approached the ominous mound and examined the freshly
turned earth. In the dawn light, they saw spots of blood in the sand
and a large, wet, blood-soaked section in the center of the raised
soil. Lying in the sand at the head of the bush grave was a dark sock
and a knife in a sheaf. There were also numerous chewed matchsticks
lying about the gravesite.
What the police
officers found beneath the mound almost defied their comprehension.
Nearly every part of 13-year-old Peter Aston’s naked body had been
defiled. The fact that the boy was tall, more than 6 feet, made the
discovery even more grotesque as he had been bent to fit into the
hastily dug hole that was not long enough for his gangly frame. A
chewed matchstick was caught up in his pubic hair.
Every Part of his Body Defiled
A post-mortem of
Peter Aston performed later that day by Dr. John Follent at the Tweed
Heads District Hospital revealed:
lacerations to the top of his head, as well as areas of the hair on
his head that had been cut short, a deep cut to the back of his head
and bruising to the left side of his head;
fracture of his skull with underlying brain damage;
marks and bruising on his left ear, plus lacerations to the front
and back of the same ear;
bruising to his
mouth, lips and chin;
his right eye area and cheek;
dislocation between his second and third cervical vertebrae, plus
fractures of his vertebrae;
a large stab
wound to the right side of his throat, and severing of the internal
jugular vein and external arteries;
to the front of his chest;
stab wounds to
his left shoulder and severe bruises to his left wrist;
a stab wound to
the left side of his abdomen;
lacerations over his right loin and flank, plus bruising to his left
buttock, scrotum and penis, and hair missing from his pubic area;
stab wounds to
his left and right legs below the knees and under the toes;
laceration wounds and 14 other types of abrasions, lacerations and
the presence of
sand in his nose, mouth, trachea and bronchial tract, most likely
caused by inhalation.
Follent said that
Peter Aston could have died from the skull fracture. However, due to
the sand in his nose, mouth, trachea and bronchial tract, it was
likely that, after he had been bashed and tortured, he was buried
alive and died of asphyxiation.
After he had
recovered from the shock of revisiting the scene of the death of his
best friend, Terry Ryan told the police every detail of the previous
Not long before
Peter’s death, the two boys had become good friends. They met at
Kingston State School and lived near each other in Marsden. Peter was
a tall boy. He suffered from myopia and as a result had worn thick
glasses since childhood. The combination of his thick glasses, lanky
frame and recent arrival from Victoria made him the taunt of the
school. As a result, Peter and Terry spent more time skipping school
and shoplifting from department stores than they spent in class.
Terry told the
detectives that he and Peter had skipped school on May 4. That day,
Peter intended to hitchhike to his hometown of Melbourne to join his
elder brother, and Terry had agreed to keep him company as far as the
Gold Coast, and then return home. He said:
“We met at a
place called the Sands at about 8.30 that morning. It’s a place in the
bush and it’s got sand and a little creek. From there we went to the
nearby lake and played on the Tarzan swings.
“At about 10.30am
we went down to the Kingston Railway Station and caught the train into
Brisbane and got off at the Brunswick Street Station. We went into
Myers and got some shoes, jeans and a shirt each. From there we caught
the train to Woodridge and Peter went into K-Mart and got a carton of
Winfield 25s – the red ones.
“From there we
caught a train down to Beenleigh and went into Coles and bought a
jacket each. By then it was early afternoon and we walked down to the
Gold Coast Highway and started hitchhiking while we walked south. Not
far down the highway we came across a yellow 4WD Daihatsu with the
hood up and a bloke with his head under the bonnet and another bloke
sitting in the passenger seat.
“We asked them if
they would give us a lift down to the coast and the bloke under the
bonnet told us to hop in and that they were leaving now as he had
fixed what was wrong with the car.
“They were both
casually dressed in jeans and jumpers and told us that their names
were Bob and Paul. Paul was much younger than Bob – who was driving –
and Peter got in alongside him while I sat in the back next to Paul. I
told them our names were Peter and Terry and we took off heading
The boys had only
been in the vehicle a short time when Paul produced a rifle from
beneath a blanket on the floor and held it at Terry’s head. Bob pulled
the car over to the side of the road, and Paul warned Peter that if he
moved he would ‘make a bullet in the head or the back.’ With that, the
men produced handcuffs from their pockets and at gunpoint secured both
of the boys – Peter’s hands around the front seat and Terry’s in front
of him – and took off again down the highway. Terry told the
detectives: “They told us that they were police from Miami (a suburb
south of Surfers Paradise) and we drove off again.”
After a while,
Peter told the men that his hands were getting tired, so Bob pulled up
not far from Dreamworld (a theme park about 20 kilometers north of
Surfers Paradise), undid his handcuffs, handcuffed him to the bar on
the dashboard and took off again.
During the drive,
the violence began to escalate. Bob hit Peter with his hand for no
reason, and Paul jabbed him in the chin with the barrel of his rifle.
Paul also hit Terry in the face with his hand. The vehicle then
crossed the border into New South Wales, and when they reached
Kingscliff, Bob drove into a bush track and stopped. Paul got out,
walked around to the other side of the vehicle and dragged Terry out.
He made him spread his legs apart with his hands on the top of the
vehicle, and after he had searched him, he fitted a pair of thumb
cuffs (miniature handcuffs that fit around fingers instead of wrists)
onto his hands. Bob un-cuffed Peter and dragged him from the car and
threw him to the ground. Terry said:
dragged both of us along the ground toward the beach. They were very
rough with us and threw us around a lot. Then they made us lay on the
ground with our legs apart and our arms out straight and took off all
of Peter’s clothes. He struggled against them but it was useless.
May I Join in?
“It was just
going on dark but the moon was very full and I could see exactly what
was going on. They made me lie on my stomach with my hands
thumb-cuffed behind my back and watch while they really started
knocking Peter about and kicking him. Then I heard something crack. It
was the rifle butt. Paul told Peter to ’shut up’ and then swung the
rifle as hard as he could and hit him [Peter] in the jaw with it and
then Peter fell to the ground. He hit him so hard that the rifle butt
“Then they let
Peter rest for a bit and then they started stabbing him with knives
they took from their pockets. They had about five knives in all. Peter
tried to scream so they stuffed his ripped shirt in his mouth to keep
him quiet. Then Bob came over to me and punched me in the face while I
was on the ground and it made my nose bleed.
“Bob produced a
leather punch from his pocket and gave it to Paul who punched holes in
both of Peter’s ears with it. He put the pieces of skin he punched out
of Peter’s ears into a tablet bottle he had.
“Then they made
me suck Peter off. Bob made me lean over Peter and suck him off. Bob
just said, ’Go on.’ Then they made me eat his pubic hairs. The hairs
from his privates. Bob cut some of the hairs off Peter’s privates and
stuffed them in my mouth and made me eat them. He said, ‘Eat them.’
had been repeatedly stabbed by both Bob and Paul he somehow managed to
get up and he tried to run away with no clothes on. He was still
handcuffed. Paul chased after him and brought him down while Bob had
hold of me by the collar. Bob put the thumb cuffs on Peter’s toes and
said, “Let’s see if you can run away now.” Peter managed to get up
again and started running off and Bob said, ’Shit, the little bastard
got out of them,’ and Paul took off after him and brought him back.
“Then Bob took a
shovel out of the back of the car and started hitting Peter over the
head with it. The blows were very hard and he was hitting him with the
sharp edge – the blade. Then one of them took the thumb cuffs off me –
but left the normal handcuffs on – and Paul handed me the shovel and
told me to hit Peter over the head with it, which I did, but as softly
as I could. I can’t remember how many times I hit him but they seemed
to be satisfied.
“That’s when I
asked them if I could join them so I could get out of it. I just said,
‘Can I join you?’ I’m not sure who said it then but he said, ‘How can
we trust you?’ and I said, ‘Well you seen me hit him on the head,
Naively Stupid Killers
“Peter was just
laying there. His blood was everywhere. He was bleeding from the neck,
back, front and the head. The blood was all over Bob and Paul. Then
Bob put the thumb cuffs onto Peter’s toes. Paul started waving the
“Then Bob shaved
Peter’s hair and cut his scalp. Paul was holding Peter’s feet while
Bob was shaving him. Then Bob stabbed Peter in the head. Paul was
talking to Bob while he was stabbing Peter but I couldn’t understand
what he was saying.
“Peter had just
about had it when Bob took me to look for somewhere to dig a hole. Bob
took my handcuffs off so that I could dig. The first place we tried
had too many tree roots so we came back to where Peter was and started
“When we got back
Paul was standing over Peter doing up his fly. Peter was just laying
on the ground, he had just about had it. Then they put him in the hole
and covered it up with dirt and tree branches.
everything they had, put it in the car and drove off, and me too, and
they drove me back home. While we were driving they told me that they
were Satan worshippers and they had to do it [kill Peter Aston] for
“Along the way we
stopped and put Peter’s clothes into a bin and went into a toilet and
cleaned ourselves. Bob threw Peter’s hat off a bridge and Paul threw
his [Peter’s] glasses into a bin. They pulled up at a cafe and bought
some food. I didn’t eat any of it.
“They wanted to
know where I lived. Bob gave me a pocket knife. He gave it to me in
case anyone tried to bash me or anything. When they dropped me off Bob
got out, opened up the back and let me out. Bob shook my hand and made
me promise I wouldn’t [tell anyone]. He
said, ‘If you do the same thing will happen to you.’
“I ran home.
Along the way I went into the bush and took all the clothes off and I
had my T-shirt and shorts on when I went home. I told my mother
straight away what had happened and she called the police.”
Although he was
subjected to intensive questioning, there was a lot about the
experience that Terry Ryan couldn’t remember. But detectives put this
down to the fact that the boy was probably in shock and other events
that had taken place would come back to him during later interviews.
fact that the mysterious Paul and Bob dropped Terry at his home after
murdering his friend in front of him had made the police suspicious.
However, the discovery of Peter Aston’s body in the bush grave removed
all suspicion from Terry and told investigators that not only were
they dealing with two demented murderers, but the killers were naively
stupid. Police were confident of an early arrest.
In the early hours of May 6, about 24 hours after Terry
Ryan had taken police to the grave of his murdered friend, Private
Robert Ponzetti was awakened by someone shaking his leg as he slept in
his room at the Enoggera Army Camp on the outskirts of Brisbane.
It was 17-year-old Private Paul Luckman and 34-year-old
Corporal Robin Reid. Ponzetti knew Reid well as he had shared a room
with him for some time before they had a falling out. It was Reid’s
practice to share a room with each new army private when he came into
the unit. About two weeks earlier, Luckman had come into the unit and
been moved immediately into Reid’s room. The pair had been inseparable
Reid and Luckman were both wearing jackets and jeans,
and Reid was clutching his stomach and appeared to be in pain. Luckman
explained that he thought his friend had a severe case of food
poisoning and asked Ponzetti if he could take them to the nearby
hospital outside of the base. Ponzetti agreed. He dressed quickly, and
the three men walked out of the barracks to Ponzetti’s 1978 blue
Holden Sunbird, which was parked in the car park opposite. He sat in
the driver’s seat and opened the front passenger door and the rear
door for Reid and Luckman. Reid sat in the front and Luckman in the
As Ponzetti started his car, he felt the sharp blade of
a knife across his throat. Luckman was holding the handle of the knife
in his left hand and the end of the blade in his right.
“This is not a joke, Bob, just trust us,” Luckman said.
“What are you doing? You must be joking,” Ponzetti
“No, it’s not a joke, Bob. We need your car.”
By now, Reid had made a miraculous recovery from his
food poisoning. He produced a pair of handcuffs from his jacket pocket
and cuffed Ponzetti’s hands behind his back while Luckman held the
knife to his throat.
“You don’t need to do that, Ponzetti said.
“It’s for your own protection,” Reid replied as they
bundled Ponzetti out of the car and into the back seat.
“No harm will come to you, I promise,” Luckman told the
With Ponzetti secured in the back of his car, Reid and
Luckman walked over to a yellow 4WD Daihatsu that was parked about 30
feet away. They began to take gear from it and move it into the trunk
and back seat of Ponzetti’s Sunbird. Their task complete, they then
got back into the Sunbird and took off with Reid at the wheel. After
about 15 minutes, Luckman turned to Ponzetti and said, “That kid that
was killed on the Gold Coast. That was us.” The discovery of Peter
Aston’s body had been in the news all the previous day.
“No, it wasn’t,” Reid said.
“Don’t lie, it was us. I am telling the truth,” Luckman
“We just did it for kicks,” Reid conceded. “It was a
mistake. We just wanted to explore.”
“You’ve got to be joking,” Ponzetti exclaimed. “I can’t
believe you did it.”
“Yes, it was a mistake we made,” Reid said. “We don’t
want to do it again.”
When they stopped later at a petrol station for fuel,
Luckman asked Ponzetti: “Can I trust you if I take the handcuffs off?”
“Yes,” Ponzetti replied.
“Don’t try anything,” Luckman said as he removed the
handcuffs from Ponzetti. “We have already made one mistake and we
don’t want to have to make another one. But we will if we have to.”
“Well, what are you going to do with my car?” Ponzetti
“I promise you that the car won’t be harmed,” Luckman
replied. “We are going to drive through Warwick and leave it about 200
kilometers past there.”
“We will park the car in a no-standing place so the
police will find it,” Reid said. “We are going to leave a note to
notify your insurance company.”
When the group arrived at Warwick, Reid bought two
newspapers. There was a photograph of Peter Aston on the front page
and a story about his murder. It prompted outrage from Luckman. He
said, “Most of this is a load of crap. The other 13-year-old kid, he
helped. Where it says he was dumped on the road last. [That’s] a load
of crap too. We left him in front of his place. It wasn’t 2.30 a.m. It
was earlier than that when we got out of the car. He shook hands with
As they approached Tenterfield, Luckman said to
Ponzetti: “We’re getting close to dropping you off. Don’t do what
Terry did to us.”
“Who’s Terry?” Ponzetti asked.
“The other 13-year-old creep that
“No. I’m not going to turn you in,” Ponzetti replied.
“What are you going to tell the police?” Luckman asked.
“I’m going to tell them that the two blokes who stole
my car are about 22 years old, one of them had blond hair and the
other one had light brown hair,” Ponzetti told them. “The one with the
blond hair is wearing a blue T-shirt, black trousers and running shoes
and the other bloke’s wearing a white T-shirt, faded blue jeans and
Apparently convinced, Luckman handed Ponzetti a dollar
and some silver, a packet of cigarettes and a lighter and told him to
get out a few kilometers short of Tenterfield. He had to wait only a
short time for a lift into Tenterfield. When he arrived, he went
immediately to a police station and told the police what had happened.
At midday the same day, Constable Vincent Towns of the
Tenterfield Highway Patrol responded to a call. As he approached the
Bolivia Post Office, he saw a blue Holden Sunbird traveling south at a
speed of between 60 to 80 kilometers per hour. Constable Towns
followed the vehicle to a point 13 kilometers north of Deep Water to
where it stopped in a truck parking area at the side of the road. The
police vehicle stopped about 200 meters away from the Sunbird, and
Towns saw a man get out of the car, walk around to the hood and open
it. All the time the man was looking at Towns. After a couple of
minutes, the man returned to the driver’s seat of the Sunbird and
drove southward. Towns took off in pursuit at a safe distance. As they
approached the outskirts of Deep Water, they ran into a police
roadblock and had no alternative but to stop.
At 12.10 p.m. that day, Sergeant Jack Harvison at Glen
Innes Police Station had received a radio message from Tenterfield
Police. As a result, he and Senior Constable Goodall had rushed to a
point on the New England Highway about half a kilometer north of the
small town of Deep Water. There they had set up a road block with
their police car and a large northbound truck on the western side of
Cautiously, Sergeant Harvison and Constable Towns
approached the vehicle. They arrested Robin Reid and Paul Luckman
without resistance. Reid came out with his hands in the air while
Luckman was found cowering on the front seat.
The Strong Lead
After police had interviewed Terry Ryan during the day
of May 5, they issued a notice to be broadcast over the New South
Wales Police Network for all officers to be on the lookout for a
mustard-colored Daihatsu 4WD. All local radio stations were given a
description of the vehicle and of the occupants who answered to the
names of Bob and Paul. Anyone seeing the vehicle was warned to stay
away and to ring the police immediately as the occupants were armed
Acting on an anonymous telephone call in which police
were informed that the vehicle might belong to two soldiers,
17-year-old Private Paul Luckman and 34-year-old Corporal Robin “Bob”
Reid, who answered the descriptions and were based at the Enoggera
Army Camp on the outskirts of Brisbane, a squad of a combination of
New South Wales and Queensland detectives descended upon room 29 of
Barrack Block H9 to find the suspects gone. Detective Sergeant Bob
Jackson and Detective Ian “Spiro” Spiers from Murwillumbah Police,
along with Detective Superintendent Mark Jackson of the Brisbane
Homicide Squad and other Queensland detectives, were the first
officers to arrive at the army camp. In the nearby car park, they
found the Daihatsu 4WD that Terry Ryan had described. Looking inside
the car, they saw that the interior and the car’s contents matched the
boy’s description perfectly. From the vehicle detectives removed three
knives and a baton. After examining the vehicle but before searching
the suspects’ room, Bob Jackson turned to Detective Spears and said
confidently: “It looks like we've
got the bastards, Spiro.”
By now aware that Reid and Luckman, who were on army
leave at the time of the murder, had left the camp (the commanding
officer had had the whole area searched prior to the police arriving),
the detectives set about searching the missing soldiers’ rooms.
Detective Sergeant Bob Jackson said:
The room was untidy and divided into four sections with
beds occupying the two front sections near the door. This area had two
large wooden lockers which acted as a petition, leaving the back
section as one large room. From papers found in this section it was
apparent that it was the area occupied by Robin Reid.
Inspector Jackson and I searched this section and took
possession of 37 knives of different shapes and sizes which were on
display in various parts of that room as well as eight swords, one
cutlass, one spear head and two scalpels which were on display on the
walls and in the cupboard.
We then conducted a search of the front area of the
room and from the personal material found there it was obvious that
this was the part occupied by Paul Luckman. We removed a pair of bone
colored jeans and a red and white floral shirt of which both were
bloodstained. I noticed a pair of steel crutches next to the bed.
Curious about the crutches, the detectives made
inquiries at the army base hospital. It transpired that when Reid and
Luckman had returned to the base after murdering Peter Aston,
Luckman’s foot was severely bruised and swollen from repeatedly
kicking Peter. Luckman told the medic he saw that he had dropped a
heavy suitcase on his foot, and after it was washed and bandaged, he
was supplied with a pair of crutches.
A further search among the books in Reid and Luckman’s
room revealed a photograph album containing clusters of what appeared
to be human hair taped onto each page. Written on the page at the top
of each sample was its identification, such as “Bill W pubic”, “Bill W
guts”, “Derek H … under arms”, and so on. In the same catalogue were
pictures cut from magazines of naked and semi-naked youths either tied
up or in bondage positions. Among the many homosexual books found was
one in which the models had been cut out and pasted onto each other to
create sexually suggestive positions. Bob Jackson continued:
We had no idea what to expect when we went into that
room but it didn’t take long to realize that we had a couple of really
strange bastards on our hands. On top of the arsenal of knives, the
piles of homosexual books with the cutouts pasted on top of one
another and the scrapbook with pubic hair samples, we also discovered
dozens of books on Satanism. Some of the titles were the Devil’s
Prayer Book, the Satan’s Bible and the History of
In a note book one of them had handwritten essays about
leading a boy down a bush track at knifepoint and then holding him in
a headlock with a knife at his throat while he undressed him. There
wasn’t much doubt that these blokes could help us with our
While Bob Jackson and the team of detectives were
searching the room at the army base, news came through on the police
radio that Reid and Luckman had been detained at Glen Innes Police
Detective Sergeant Bob Jackson said later, “Spiro
(Detective Spiers) and I drove down to Glen Innes that night, taking
with us the exhibits that we had taken from the suspect’s room at
Enoggera to use in the interviews if necessary. On arrival at Glen
Innes both of the alleged offenders were being formally interviewed,
Reid by Detective Sergeant Peter Dunston and Mark Ferguson, and
Luckman by Detective Sergeant Eric Strong and Detective Eric Grimmond
from Casino.” Each told conflicting stories, mainly blaming each other
and Terry Ryan, the boy whom they had trusted but who had given them
up to police instead. So preposterous were the allegations against
Ryan that the interrogating detectives could only conclude that Reid
and Luckman had conspired to incriminate him as much as they could as
a payback for “dobbing”
him into police.
In his statement to police, Reid said:
The boys told us that they’d stolen some cigarettes, I
think 20 packets and the clothes that they were wearing were stolen.
We proceeded to get rid of him (Peter Aston). I remembered that I had
hit him, I don’t know how many times or how severe but I only used my
hand. I am not normally a violent person. Nothing was said about the
little one (Terry Ryan) but I think I hit him once.
The little one asked us if he could join us. We said,
“Yes”. The little one helped us. He burned the big one (Peter Aston)
with a lighted cigarette. He put a hole in the big one’s ear. He also
kicked him. I can’t remember a lot but I have a strong feeling that I
stabbed the big one once because although they didn’t like him, I
didn’t want to see him in agony.
Paul hit him with a shovel I think to quiet him and
stabbed him. All three of us helped bury him because we were told to
get rid of the body. That’s as far as I can remember at this stage.
Can I say at this stage that I deeply regret doing it. It’s not
something that I’m proud of and I am very sorry for my actions in this
murder. It’s murder, isn’t it? I’ll say murder.
In his statement, Luckman said that, after he and Reid
had picked up the two boys, they had handcuffed and held them at knife
and gunpoint, and proceeded down a dirt track, parked and then walked
them about 20 meters to a patch of sand and dirt. Here Bob (Reid) had
ripped Peter’s clothes off, grabbed his genitals and begun to crush
Peter went down then Bob shaved Peter around his
genitals and told him (Terry Ryan) to go down and suck him off. While
he was doing that Bob cut Peter’s hair then he took Terry off and
Terry turned around and said, “Can I join in?” and Bob said, “Yes”.
And Bob and Terry walked about 20 meters inland with a shovel to go
and dig a grave.
Whilst they were gone Peter said to me, “What are you
going to do with me?” I did not answer. Bob and Terry returned and
Peter got up and ran inland. Terry and I ran after him to catch him.
We caught him and took him back. Then Bob started crushing his
genitals again then Terry grabbed a can of Aeroguard and matches and
lit it towards Peter’s hair on his head and to his genitals.
Then Bob put the thumb cuffs on Peter’s big toes and
told him not to run or he’d kill him. So Peter did and the thumb cuffs
came undone. Terry and me ran after him and caught him and took him
back. Then I said to Bob, “It’s time we left.” Then Bob said, “You go
first.” Then I cut his throat approximately four millimeters deep and
stabbed him in the left or right shoulder. Then Bob stabbed him a few
times, one in the back of the throat. Then Peter fell down on the
ground and started spitting out blood and was dead I think. Then Bob
dug a shallow hole and put Peter in there and covered him up.
15 Minutes of Fame
Later that night, both men were formally charged with
the murder of Peter Aston. Reid was also charged with threatening to
inflict bodily harm on Terry Ryan.
The following morning, Reid and Luckman appeared before
the Glen Innes Court. Detective Sergeant Bob Jackson applied for them
to be “bail refused” and that they be remanded in his (Jackson’s)
custody to be taken back to Tweed Heads. He said:
Spiro and I took Reid, and two detectives from the
Sydney homicide squad who were working in the New England district on
another murder case took Luckman. Reid was a tall, well built man in
jeans and a cowboy shirt and flat-heeled cowboy boots. Not a bad style
of a bloke really. My first impression of him was that he was so
conceited that he genuinely thought that he was completely in control
of the situation, despite the circumstances.
Along the way Reid asked me to stop and buy him a box
of matches. The minute I gave them to him he put one in his mouth and
chewed on it, like the cowboys do. That explained the matches found at
the gravesite. Reid chewed them constantly. We figured that he thought
it made him look tough.
The following day Spiro and myself, along with a
scientific investigator to take pictures, took Reid on a tour of the
murder scene and he told us in intricate detail exactly what happened
on the night of the murder. He was most obliging. He proudly told us
about the whole night from start to finish including the actions of
Paul Luckman and Terry Ryan. He pointed out where all of the weapons
had been dumped and sure enough, when we went and looked, they were
The sick bastard was enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. I
kept telling him how clever he was to remember all those things and
the more I pandered to his ego, the more he pumped himself up and
strutted around re-enacting the murder, blow by blow, so to speak. He
even sat on the sand around the grave and laughed. It was sickening.
With Reid and Luckman safely behind bars, investigators
began piecing together the jigsaw in an effort to try to understand
why the men had committed such a heinous crime for seemingly no
The Partners had Practiced
Robin Reid was born in Hampshire, England, on 20
October 1948. He immigrated to Australia with his working-class family
on 16 November 1961, where they settled in Queensland. He left school
at 14 and worked as a laborer, spray-painter and salesman. Somewhere
along the way – it isn’t clear where – he developed a passion for bows
and arrows and knives of all descriptions. Reid joined the army in
1972, and eventually wound up at Enoggera Army Camp. Here, he reached
the rank of corporal and was put in charge of assignments for the
privates. Because of his sexual preferences and willingness to
participate at a moment’s notice, he was known around the base as
Paul Luckman was born in Melbourne on 1 November 1964,
into a broken home where he had little or no relationship with his
parents or step-parents. He didn’t meet his real mother until he was
13, having been raised by his father and a stepmother. His mother
lived with a violent alcoholic who bashed her constantly. In his early
teens he was allegedly sexually assaulted by two men in their house
over a five-day period, an experience he apparently enjoyed. He left
school at 16 and went on the dole but supported his meager income by
prostituting himself to men. He also enjoyed dressing in women’s
clothing. In an attempt to get some guidance into his troubled life,
he joined the army at 17. Within three months he was transferred from
Melbourne to Enoggera Army Camp.
On his arrival at Enoggera, Luckman was sent to
Corporal Robin Reid for allocation of accommodation. Immediately, Reid
was entranced by the handsome young Luckman and arranged for the
teenager to move in with him. The combination of Reid’s passion for
weapons, violence, sexual torture fantasies and satanism and Luckman’s
willingness to be enticed into his dark world bonded the pair
immediately, and from then on they were inseparable.
In hindsight, investigators realized that it was only a
matter of time before the pair would attempt to make their fantasies a
reality. After Reid and Luckman’s capture, a young soldier, Peter
Hoskins, came forward and told police of a conversation he had had
with the pair on the night of 18 April, a fortnight before Peter Aston
was murdered. Over a few beers the trio had chatted before going to a
late-night movie. As always with Reid and Luckman, the conversation
quickly got around to abduction and torture. Hoskins reported that
Reid had said that he would like to kidnap a couple of ‘coons” and
torture and sacrifice them on a stone altar. He didn’t want to kill
them straightaway; instead, he wanted to inflict lots of pain before
killing them. Then he wanted to bury their bodies in shallow bush
graves where they wouldn’t be discovered for up to 20 years. He had
produced a medical book and pointed out how and where he would cut his
victims, saying that he believed that cutting and burning them with
cigarette butts would be the most effective method of torture without
actually killing them. Producing two knives, Reid had held Luckman in
a headlock and demonstrated to the petrified Hoskins his technique.
The trio then went off to the movies.
It was also revealed that two days before they murdered
Peter Aston, Reid and Luckman had picked up another young hitchhiker,
John Bruce. They had blindfolded and handcuffed him at gunpoint and
savagely beaten him before dropping him back at the spot where they
had picked him up. Asked why they didn’t kill John Bruce, Reid said:
I still had control of my reality and emotions in
relation to John. We still had to abduct him and I thought we would
terrorize him, okay, and we wouldn’t take him to the police and my
fantasies were being got at this stage.
We set out to kill John Andrew Bruce but I couldn’t and
we let him go. But when we came to Peter (Peter Aston) it was getting
stronger. Lack of sleep, other things, were building up within me. The
fantasies had got to me at this stage but … there was no feeling,
there was no satisfaction or feeling in me when I set out to kill
"We are going to kill someone tonight"
Reid and Luckman’s committal hearing was held at Tweed
Heads Court on 4 August 1982 before Magistrate Brian Hanrahan. From
the outset the committal hearing was a debacle as media from all over
Australia and an angry mob clambered over each other to get a look at
the pair of monsters who had allegedly indulged in satanism, torture
and bizarre sexual rituals and butchered and murdered a boy. When
Peter Aston’s brother, Michael, went missing from his Melbourne home
armed with a rifle after making threats to kill Reid and Luckman, the
Tactical Response Group was called in to monitor everyone entering the
courthouse. It was rumored that the dead boy’s mother had entered the
courthouse armed with a knife, and although she sat within an arm’s
length of Reid during the proceedings, she refrained from using it.
Satisfied that Reid and Luckman had a case to answer, Mr Hanrahan
committed them for trial in the New South Wales Supreme Court in
Grafton. But, given the gravity of the charges against the pair, the
case was transferred to the Sydney Supreme Court to be heard in front
of Mr. Justice Adrian Roden and a jury of three women and nine men.
The trial began on 8 November 1982. Paul Luckman
pleaded ‘not guilty’ and Robin Reid pleaded ‘not guilty by reason of
So appalling were the injuries to the murdered boy,
Peter Aston, that the Crown Prosecutor, David Shillington QC, elected
not to show photographs of the deceased to the jury. His reasoning for
this decision was his belief that the photographs may psychologically
block the jurors’ minds and that they would then try to suppress the
images and in turn fail to recall the brutality of the offence. Mr.
Justice Roden agreed with this strategy, and told the court that he
believed it would be in everyone’s best interests if the jury were
spared the visual horror of what happened to Peter and instead heard
it from the witnesses.
Given that there was no doubt Reid and Luckman had
murdered Peter Aston, the trial focused on which of the defendants
played the major role in the atrocity. As the proceedings progressed,
it was clear that Luckman intended to lay the blame squarely at Reid’s
feet. It was also clear that the pair’s parting had been acrimonious.
Among a multitude of allegations, Luckman claimed that he was forced
to participate in the atrocities as a result of a direct threat on his
life by Reid.
He alleged that Reid had asked him to go on a drive to
the Gold Coast, but when he was in the vehicle Reid pulled a knife,
held it to his throat and said, “We are going to kill someone tonight.
If not, it will be you.” In contrast, Reid embarked on his defense of
insanity by claiming that his bisexuality put him under much stress
because, if his superiors found out, he would be discharged from the
army. He also claimed that his job as a clerk in the Ordinance Corps
put him under constant pressure and his obsession with the occult
caused him to hear voices that, in turn, drove him to murder.
However, despite the defenses of the pair, Terry Ryan’s
evidence was damning and the jurors wasted no time in making up their
minds. On 26 November 1982, the jury delivered a verdict of guilty for
both accused. In sentencing Reid and Luckman to life imprisonment, Mr.
Justice Roden said that their crime was “one of the most brutal and
callous crimes ever to come before the courts in this state.” The
prisoners were taken away to begin their sentences in separate jails.