News & Insight

Slain teens family slam hoteliers' probe

The family of Sydney teenager Thomas Kelly, who was killed in Kings Cross, have described a bid by the state's peak liquor lobby group to gain access to police evidence in the case as commercially motivated and ''a gross invasion of privacy''.

The Australian Hotels Association NSW branch has submitted an application to the NSW Police under freedom-of-information laws, seeking a copy of the ''event narrative made in relation to the alleged manslaughter of Thomas Kelly by Kieran Loveridge''.

The request asks for the material to include details of the ''four other assaults committed by Loveridge on that date, plus antecedents and any information regarding Loveridge's movements prior to and following the assaults''.

In June, Loveridge pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the teenager, with prosecutors withdrawing a charge of murder against him.

Thomas was walking down Victoria Street in Kings Cross at about 10pm on July 7 last year when he was king-hit by Loveridge. He died two days later.

Loveridge has also pleaded guilty to three counts of common assault and one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm relating to four other attacks on separate victims on the same night.

Thomas' father Ralph said he and his family were ''completely devastated'' by the AHA's move.

''This represents a gross invasion of privacy in what is a very delicate and personal matter, for what we could only imagine as being purely commercial interests on the part of the AHA,'' he said. ''How could anyone be so insensitive? Our family have been through enough over the past 12 months with losing our son and brother in an unprovoked attack. Anyone with any sensitivity would have realised the whole court process was a horrifying and emotional ordeal for our family, and yet now we hear the liquor industry wants to renew the suffering by wading into the case with complete lack of consideration and for their own self-interests.''

A spokesman for the AHA said the application was not made with any malice. "It wasn't our intention to offend the Kelly family, but it is frustrating it has been more than a year and the details surrounding this tragedy are still not known," he said.

"The industry has been working hard on initiatives to curb alcohol-fuelled violence.

''We want to develop solutions to problems, and the only way that can be done is by having the actual facts of each case - in this instance it's about the movements of the offender before the actual incident.''

The AHA statement said addressing social problems required facts so such tragedies could be prevented in the future.

The AHA's chief executive, Paul Nicolau, has consistently rejected claims that alcohol-related violence is out of control in NSW, instead blaming the late-night violence on drug use.

Mr Kelly said that since Thomas' death last July there had been several other attacks in Sydney that could have resulted in similarly tragic circumstances.

''It's time we all took a good, long, hard look at what's happening on the streets of Sydney and demand the situation changes, so other children don't become victims of horrific crime,'' Mr Kelly said.

The AHA application remains with the NSW Police for a decision.

Read more:

SMH - Lisa Davies, Crime Editor,  25th August 2013

Published on by TKYF.