Childless woman plotted to kill mother-of-four with boyfriend and ex-husband so she could take her children

39-year-old Samantha Kelly was killed by Christine Lyon's boyfriend Peter Arthurs with a hammer

                            Childless woman plotted to kill mother-of-four with boyfriend and ex-husband so she could take her children
(Victoria Police)

A spine-chilling murder in 2016 remains one of Australia's most shocking cases. A childless woman named Christine Lyons along with her boyfriend and ex-husband plotted to kill their neighbor, a mother-of-four, because she wanted her babies for herself. 39-year-old Samantha Kelly was killed by Christine's boyfriend Peter Arthur as he hit her around the head seven times with a hammer. According to reports, the motive behind the murder was Christine’s "desperate desire" to take Kelly's four children, as she was unable to have children of her own. She was the mastermind behind the killing which also involved her ex, Ronald Lyons.

Christine and Ronald were once related through marriage and had also dated at one point in the past. However, at the time when the gruesome crime took place, Christine was with Arthur while Ronald, 45, also lived with them in the same house. It has been said that Kelly was separated from her ex who had been found guilty of assaulting her. She moved from the Australian city of Ballarat to Bendigo with her four children, aged 11 months, four, five, and six, to start a new life. She rented a bungalow that belonged to Christine. The trio called Kelly, who had some learning difficulties, to their home in January 2016 and poured her drinks filled with sedatives, beta-blockers, anti-nausea tablets, analgesics and antihistamines in a bid to kill her. However, their victim survived. Christine then told Ronald and Arthur that Kelly had to go on a “permanent holiday”, and they made another plan to kill her.

As per their horrific plan, Arthur on the night of January 22, 2016, killed Kelly by hitting her around the head seven times with a hammer. After the gruesome murder, Ronald bought two shovels from a hardware store and helped Arthur bury Kelly in a dry creek in the bushland south-west of Bendigo. The trio then told everyone that Kelly had eloped with a man in the middle of the night and had left her children because she did not want them. However, their lie did not hold up for long as friends, family and even the police did not believe the elopement story. When police pressurized the three, Arthur admitted to the murder and also insisted that he’d acted alone.

However, after being charged, he named his partners and said though he beat Kelly to death, Christine and Ronald were all part of the sickening plot. Initially, Arthur was given 16 years in prison, with a parole period of just 13 years. But later, it was increased to 22 years with a parole period of 18 years. Christine and Ronald went to trial in 2018. They initially denied their involvement in the murder, but as Arthur was the key witness, he implicated them as part of his plea deal.

Christine, 47, is currently serving a 30-year jail term over the 2016 murder. Her ex Ronald was sentenced to 12 years and six months. Four years after the murder, in March 2020, Christine and Ronald attempted to have their convictions overturned, saying Arthur implicated them to secure a lesser sentence for himself. “Peter Arthur had a strong self-interest in falsely implicating Christine Lyons in the murder of Samantha Kelly. He altered his version of events in order to assist himself in order to secure a more beneficial sentencing outcome,” the appeal court heard from Christine’s lawyer.

However, in May, a court upheld the convictions of both. "The circumstances leading up to, and surrounding, Ms Kelly's murder can only be described as utterly bizarre," Court of Appeal justices Stephen McLeish, Karin Emerton and Mark Weinberg said.

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