Thomas Kelly was in the wrong place at the wrong time. On 7 July 2012, he caught a taxi from Town Hall to Kings Cross with two female friends, on their way to meet other friends. He was talking on his mobile phone and would have been unsuspecting of any danger.
Kieran Loveridge had been drinking heavily since 5pm. By 9.30pm he was very drunk, was in an agitated state and beginning to behave aggressively. As Thomas Kelly walked by, Loveridge stepped out from the wall he was standing against and punched him in the face with sufficient force to knock him down. A scan of Kelly’s head later showed a massive fracture of the back of the skull and brain injury. He died two days later in hospital. On the same evening, Loveridge assaulted three other people.
Loveridge pleaded guilty to three charges of common assault, one charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one charge of manslaughter by an unlawful and dangerous act. Justice Campbell sentenced him to a 7 years and 2 months with an effective non-parole period of 5 years and 2 months.
This sentence sparked an enormous outcry from members of Thomas Kelly's family and friends, the public and the legal community. There were many who considered this sentence too lenient, some have called for mandatory sentencing for 'alcohol-fuelled violence' offences. The DPP has been asked by the Attorney-General Greg Smith whether there are sufficient grounds to appeal this sentencing decision.
Justice Campbell outlined the legal principles applying to this case and it included a definition of manslaughter. For an offence of manslaughter to have taken place, it needed to be shown that:
- the punching of the deceased was an act of the offender which caused the death of the deceased;
- the act was deliberate;
- the act was both unlawful and dangerous (see para 49 of the decision).
Decision: R v Loveridge  NSWSC 1638, 8 November 2013, Campbell J
- ‘Debate needed to consider ramifications of mandatory sentencing’ by Greg Smith, SMH, 11 November 2013
- ‘Thomas Kelly: This was never a case of murder’ by Nicholas Cowdery, SMH, 10 November 2013
- ‘Thomas Kelly’s parents petition Premier Barry O’Farrell for law review’ by Lisa Davies, SMH, 11 November 2013
- ‘Thomas Kelly’s parents call for premier to act on alcohol-fuelled violence’, The Guardian Australia, 8 November 2013
- ‘Judge with no sense of the real world’ by Paul Sheehan, SMH, 11 November 2013
- 'Proposed laws will give 20 years for "one-punch" killings' by Anna Patty, SMH, 13 November 2013