The Kelly parents lost two sons because of a single punch. The man responsible today walked free.

Content warning: This post includes discussion of suicide that may be distressing to some readers.

Kathy and Ralph Kelly have experienced grief like no parents ought to.

They have dealt with the deaths of two of their sons — Thomas Kelly and Stuart Kelly

It all comes back to the callous actions of one man, whose unprovoked one-punch attack in Sydney's CBD over a decade ago changed the course of the Kelly family's life.

Now this week that man has walked free from jail.

Watch: Kathy Kelly speaks on Mamamia's No Filter. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

On a Saturday night in July 2012, Ralph and Kelly received a phone call.

Thomas, their eldest son, had left home to attend a friend's 18th birthday. He was more excited than usual, because it was that night he was planning on asking the girl he liked to be his girlfriend. He had never done that before, and had spent hours talking it through with friends.

They were meant to meet under the iconic Coke Sign in Kings Cross, but Thomas didn't know the area particularly well, so he got out of the taxi on Victoria Street about 200 metres away.


As Thomas and the girl he liked walked hand in hand towards the main street, an 18-year-old named Kieran Loveridge who had already been involved in altercations all over the city that night, spotted him.

Loveridge didn't know Thomas. For no reason at all, he punched Thomas in the face. The blow knocked Thomas to the ground, causing a severe brain injury. Two days later he died in hospital. 

"The only comfort I have," Kathy previously told Mamamia's No Filter, "is that he didn't see anything coming... he was happy. He was contemplating how he was going to kiss this girl."

CCTV meant Loveridge was caught. Initially he was 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 later increased to a maximum term of 13 years and eight months with a non-parole period of 10 years and two months.

At the time in court, Loveridge had said the punch didn't kill Thomas, the pavement did.

Following Thomas' 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government introduced legislation that included mandatory sentences for some offences involving alcohol and the since-repealed lockout laws for central Sydney venues.

The Sydney lockout laws, introduced in early 2014, required all nightclubs, bars and pubs in the CBD precinct to enforce a lockout at 1:30am (no new patrons to enter premises) and last drinks to be called at 3am. The legislation was highly controversial, with The Keep Sydney Open campaign leading to enormous demonstrations. 


The laws became unfairly synonymous with the Kelly family. Thomas' memorial in Kings Cross was vandalised, and had to be rebuilt — more than once — by locals.

The Kelly family during the children's childhood. Image: Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation.

The Kellys were subject to scathing online harassment, and Thomas' brother Stuart in particular was the victim of vicious and unrelenting bullying. It had devastating consequences.


Stuart took his own life in 2016 when he was 18, an event his parents blamed on the loss of his brother and the abuse directed at their family regarding the lockout laws. His parents also say Stuart became a different person overnight and was "broken" after attending St Paul's College at Sydney University, believing he may have been targeted in hazing.

All of this — the trauma, the pain, the loss — can be traced back to one single punch. An act of complete violence. Unprovoked. 

Now it's been confirmed Loveridge has been released from prison, despite concerns over his violent history in jail and links to bikie gangs. 

Loveridge, now 30, was released on supervised parole on Friday after the NSW State Parole Authority determined his risk to the community could be mitigated, after his adult years behind bars.

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 his 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.

The parole authority chair said Loveridge 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.

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


The Kelly family say they were left in the dark over key details surrounding the parole release. Ralph and Kathy also acknowledge they've been "handed a double life sentence" with the deaths of their two sons. 

"Our family may never find forgiveness for Mr Loveridge," Kathy said in court via video link. "The only outcome we can hope for is he will complete his parole and live a lawful life."

In 2013, the Kelly family launched the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, aimed at reducing street violence. 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.

Today, Kathy and Ralph's primary focus is their daughter, Madeleine.

"I used to pray but now I don't really pray anymore," Kathy told No Filter. "I talk to the boys every night before I go to sleep. We're very proud of Madeleine, and going through all she has. She's an incredible young woman."

With AAP.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Supplied/AAP.