Similar Murder of Anita Cobby , Murder of Janine Balding , Murder of Ebony Simpson
On 4 May 1982, Australian Army personnel Robin Reid and Paul Luckman kidnapped teenage boys Peter Aston and Terry Ryan on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Reid and Luckman then drove the boys at gun and knife point to Kingscliff, New South Wales, where they were beaten, tortured, and sexually assaulted before Aston was ultimately murdered.
Kidnapping and murder
On 3 May, Peter Aston, then 13 years old, decided to hitchhike to his hometown of Melbourne to join his brother. Peter's school friend, Terry Ryan, also thirteen, agreed to keep him company until he reached the Gold Coast, and then planned to go back home.
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, 34, and Luckman, 17, 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."
Arrest and trial
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 Daihatsu, which had been left at the army base, as well as in Luckman and Reid's living areas on base.
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.
During the trial on 8 November 1982, both men pleaded "not guilty", though Reid claimed that his bisexuality and his job as an Ordnance Corps clerk had put him under enough stress to go insane (see insanity defense).
Reid and Luckman were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 1989, Paul Luckman began taking hormones on the advice of a psychiatrist, as he felt more like a woman than a man. A year later, Luckman changed his name by deed poll to Nicole Louise Pearce and underwent gender reassignment surgery. On 26 October 1999, she was released from the Kirkconnell Correctional Centre, a minimum security male-only facility in inland New South Wales.
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. Reid has been refused parole numerous times, most recently in 2014.
The murder of Peter Aston was depicted in the Crime Investigation Australia episode "Buried Alive: Luckman and Reid".