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Kieran Loveridge – who was convicted over the one punch death of 18-year-old Thomas Kelly – has been released from prison on parole after spending 11 years in custody for the coward punch offence.

The now 30-year-old was released from Broken Hill Correctional Centre on 19 April 2024, having served 11 years of his total effective sentence of 13 years and 8 months imprisonment.

On 7 June 2014, Thomas Kelly was walking with two female friends in Sydney City, speaking on the phone to another friend. As Thomas walked past by Loveridge, he stepped out from the wall that he was standing against and punched Thomas in the face with sufficient force to knock him down.

Thomas fell directly backwards, sustaining a fracture of his skull. He had emergency surgery however later died at St. Vincent’s Hospital after his life support was switched off.

Earlier on in the night, Loveridge had assaulted another man, Mario Compagnoni, who was walking down the road – elbowing him above his left eyebrow, lacerating his skin and drawing blood.

After hitting Thomas, Loveridge ran from the scene. He assaulted three other men later that night, which all consisted of punches to the head.

He encountered Matthew Serrao walking around Kings Cross and randomly punched him, trying to swing again when Serrao demanded an apology.

Soon after, Rhyse Saliba accidentally bumped into Loveridge walking down the street, who proceeded to punch him in the face. Aden Gazi, a companion of Saliba, who sought to defend him, was also punched in the face.

Loveridge was arrested on 18 July 2012.

He was initially sentenced to 7 years and 2 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 5 years and 2 months imprisonment in the District Court. This included a term of 6 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 4 years imprisonment, imposed in respect of the manslaughter of Thomas.

The prosecution appealed this sentence, with the Court of Criminal Appeal re-sentencing Loveridge to a total effective sentence of 13 years and 8 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 10 years and 2 months imprisonment.

This included a sentence of 10 years and 6 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 7 years imprisonment, for the manslaughter of Thomas.

He was first eligible for parole on 17 June 2023, and his sentence (and parole order) will expire on 17 May 2026, unless revoked. He was released at a date prescribed no later than 25 April 2024.

Loveridge’s sentence prompted the introduction of minimum sentencing laws for one-punch deaths, as well as the controversial lockout laws aimed at reducing alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney.

The Parole Authority explained that: “there would be a substantially greater risk posed to community safety if the offender were released at a later time with a shortened period of supervision, or, worse still, at the end of his sentence without any period of supervised parole at all.”

It noted that, in view of all the evidence, that it was satisfied release on parole at this time is appropriate and in the interests of community safety.

The Authority heard evidence including reports from Community Corrections, the Serious Offenders Review Council, and submissions from Thomas’ family.

The reports provided by the Serious Offenders Review Council and Community Corrections were stated to “without exception, unequivocally support the offender’s release.”

The Authority further noted that the State did not oppose parole, and summarised that the evidence available generally supports a conclusion that positive progress has been made by him in custody.

Thomas’ family chose not to oppose Loveridge’s release, however, have since spoken out regarding this decision, stating that Corrective Services did not tell them the details of Loveridge’s violent outbursts in prison.

Community Corrections detailed that the offender had committed multiple offences of misconduct in custody, some of which included violence.

This included punching Rebels bikie Matthew Rymer at Silverwater Correctional Complex in 2018.

Loveridge was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm – leading to a further 12-month sentence, which was ordered to operate somewhat concurrently, adding only one month to his existing non-parole period.

In February 2024, he was found to be intoxicated, and aggressive towards Community Corrections staff. Whilst he had consumed alcohol, the Authority noted that it had been produced by another inmate.

The report noted: “the offender subsequently entered a behavioural management program with which he complied. He explained the offence as having occurred as a consequence of heightened anxiety due to his impending release, and the potential media publicity that such release may bring about.”

Loveridge will be obligated to comply with additional conditions on parole including that he must abstain from alcohol, attend the Violent Offender Therapeutic Program, and not frequent or visit the Local Government Areas of the City of Sydney, LGA of Shoalhaven and the suburb of Neutral Bay.

He must not contact Kelly’s family or his co-offenders, as well as any Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMCG) members including by visiting or frequenting any OMCG premises frequented by members and associates of OMCGs. This is in addition to the standard conditions of parole.

The standard conditions of parole are:

  • You must be of good behaviour,
  • You must not commit any offences,
  • You must adapt to normal lawful community life,
  • When you are first release on parole – you must report to a community corrections officer at a time and place directed, or if you have not been given a direction, to a Community Corrections office within 7 days of your release.
  • While your parole is supervised – you must report to a community corrections officer at the times and places directed by the officer,
  • You must comply with all reasonable directions from a community corrections officer including those about the place where you live, participation in programs, treatment, employment, not associating with specified people, and ceasing drug or alcohol use,
  • You must permit a community corrections officer to visit you at the place where you live at any time and permit the officer to enter the premises when they visit you,
  • You must notify a community corrections officer if you change your address, contact details or employment. You must do this before the change occurs if practicable, or within 7 days of the change occurring,
  • You must not leave New South Wales without permission from a community corrections manager, and
  • You must not leave Australia without permission from the State Parole Authority.

Where an offender is sentenced to imprisonment for more than 3 years and the court imposes a non-parole period, there is no right to be automatically released at the expiration of this period, as outlined in Division 2 of Part 6 of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 (NSW).

Once the non-parole period expires, they become eligible for release on parole, and whether they are released is up to the discretion of the Parole Authority.

Offenders do not ‘apply for parole’ but rather the Parole Authority will be required to consider an offender’s parole at a specifically designated time.

Generally, the Parole Authority must not make a parole order directing the release of an offender unless it is satisfied that it is in the interests of the safety of the community.

In considering whether it is in the interests of the safety of the community to release an offender, the Parole Authority must have regard to the risk to the safety of members of the community, and whether the release of the offender on parole is likely to address the offender’s risk of re-offending.

It also involves assessing the risk to community safety of releasing the offender at the end of the sentence without a period of supervised parole, or at a later date with a shorter period of supervised parole, as per section 135 of the Act.

The Authority will also consider:

  • the nature and circumstances of the offence (to which the offender’s sentence relates),
  • any relevant comments made by the sentencing court,
  • the offender’s criminal history,
  • the likely effect on any victim of the offender, and on any such victim’s family,
  • any report in relation to the granting of parole that has been prepared by a community corrections officer, the Review Council, or any other authority of the State.

Where parole is refused by the Parole Authority, the Parole Authority must give notice of the refusal to the offender. It must determine whether to grant an automatic review hearing or direct the inmate to file an application to convince the Authority that a review of the refusal decision is justified.

If the inmate does not want a review hearing, or a review is refused, they can instead re-apply for parole on their annual review date (the anniversary of the offender’s parole eligibility date), but only where they have more than 12 months left to serve on their sentence.

Published on 03/05/2024

AUTHOR Poppy Morandin

Poppy Morandin is the managing law clerk and an integral part of the team of criminal lawyers at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia . She's also a part of CDLA's content article production team. Poppy is passionate about law reform and criminal justice.

View all posts by Poppy Morandin