23 April, 2024
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‘Never find forgiveness’: Australian one-punch killer gets parole

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A notorious one-punch killer whose unprovoked attack on a teenager helped trigger years-long lockout laws in Sydney will be released despite concerns over his violent history in jail and links to bikie gangs.

Kieran Loveridge, 30, will be released on supervised parole no later than April 25 after the NSW State Parole Authority on Thursday determined his risk to the community could be mitigated, after spending his adult years behind bars.

But the family of Thomas Kelly – who Loveridge killed during an alcohol-fuelled rampage through inner-city Kings Cross in July 2012 – say they were left in the dark over key details.

The 18-year-old died when he was punched in the face by Loveridge, who was the same age at the time.

The blow knocked Mr Kelly to the ground, causing a severe brain injury.

 Thomas Kelly died after an unprovoked assault in Kings Cross. Image by HANDOUT/NSW POLICE 

His parents, Ralph and Kathy Kelly, said they had been “handed a double life sentence” with the death of Thomas and later his brother Stuart.

Stuart Kelly took his own life in 2016, an event his parents blamed on the loss of his brother.

“Our family may never find forgiveness for Mr Loveridge,” Ms Kelly said while appearing beside her husband via a video link in a Parramatta court room.

“The only outcome we can hope for is he will complete his parole and live a lawful life.

But victim advocate Howard Brown said the probability of Loveridge staying free of criminality had been thrown into doubt by fresh information that showed the obstacles were “far greater than we were originally led to believe”.

A report provided to the parole authority noted Loveridge had committed multiple offences of misconduct in custody, some of which included violence and the consumption of alcohol.

It also noted Loveridge’s ongoing connections with bikie gangs and recommended a period of structured pre-release leave.

He had a month added to his sentence in 2020 over an assault that occurred while he was in jail.

 Stuart Kelly, pictured with his parents Ralph and Kathy, took his own life in 2016. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS 

The Kellys said they initially supported Loveridge’s release before the end of his sentence.

“For Thomas’ death to mean something, it is imperative to make sure every effort is made to make sure Mr Loveridge’s transition to community life is as smooth as possible,” Mr Kelly said.

Parole authority chair Geoffrey Bellew said the 30-year-old had completed a violent offenders program, made positive progress in custody and had agreed to a post-release plan and strict conditions upon his release.

“A substantially greater risk is posed to community safety if the offender was released at a later time with a shorter period of released supervision or no supervision at all,” he said.

But Mr Brown said Loveridge’s recent behaviour showed a reckless disregard for the effects of alcohol, despite his previous acknowledgement that it was a “significant issue in relation to his impulsivity”.

 Victim advocate Howard Brown spoke to the media outside the hearing in western Sydney. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

“He turns around less than a month ago and starts engaging in the consumption of alcohol – the very thing that he said he’s got under control – well, clearly he hasn’t,” he said.

Loveridge was initially jailed for seven years and two months after pleading guilty to manslaughter and the assaults of four other men on that same night.

His sentence was increased to a maximum term of 13 years and eight months with a non-parole period of 10 years and two months.

Loveridge appeared via video link from prison and agreed to the parole conditions, including refraining from contact with any bikie gang members, undertaking regular drug analysis and submitting to electronic monitoring.

 Supporters of Loveridge leave the hearing in western Sydney. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

Following Mr Kelly’s death, the NSW government introduced legislation that included mandatory sentences for some offences involving alcohol and the since-repealed lockout laws for central Sydney venues.

His family started the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation aimed at reducing street violence in 2013.

It has since evolved into a registered company, Stay Kind, incorporating the initials of both Kelly teenagers and aimed at promoting harm reduction through kindness.

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