Monday 26 June 2017

Man who fatally stabbed stranger says: 'I miss him, I lost a piece of myself that night too'

Richard Kelly tells RTÉ's Liveline that he thinks about his victim's mother every day

Kathy Armstrong

A MAN who killed a stranger 30 years ago has apologised to his victim's family and claimed "I lost a piece of myself that night too."

Tipperary man John Fox was enjoying a night out with friends in Sligo town on March 1, 1987 when he was stabbed in the back by Richard Kelly.

It was a Saturday night, and Kelly (49) claimed he was carrying the knife for hunting when he and friends became embroiled in an argument with another group of young men including Mr Fox (23).

Kelly was sentenced to ten years in prison for manslaughter and he was released after six-and-half years.

On the 30th anniversary of John's death last month, his brother Declan went on Liveline on RTÉ Radio One to say Kelly never contacted them and he thought he'd forgotten about them.

Declan Fox said: "We've all been murdered, we were a normal family, we all got on well, we worked, we'd play sports and then that night he murdered us all.

John Fox who was killed in Sligo in 1987
John Fox who was killed in Sligo in 1987

"We live in a void and can't talk about it, it's too raw, it's a world where I wouldn't want anyone else to be living."

On today's show Richard Kelly told host Joe Duffy he's still living with the crime.

"I can’t undo what happened but if I can stop one young man from carrying a knife it would be worth it," he said

When asked about not contacting the Fox family, he said: "I did not want to cause any more distress to Mrs Fox or her family.

"I miss him, I know I took a piece of humanity that night and in a way I lost a piece of myself too."

Kelly described how he was an "uneducated and extremely careless" at the time.

He said he was intoxicated on the night but can't remember if he had taken drugs.

"We were having a laugh on our way home when we got into an argument with another group of lads and yes Joe unfortunately that's what happened. And sadly a lad lost his life because of my actions."

Kelly said he can't remember what happened on the night but he did recall the moment he learned that Mr Fox had died.

"I saw the blood after it but I didn't realise that the young lad had been stabbed," he said insisting that it was not murder.

Kelly was arrested a short time later: "One of the police officers put his head around the door and as coldly and as coarsely as this he said, 'you're f**ked now Kelly that young lad is dead'. That was what was said to me."

He also spoke candidly about how he thinks victims' families should have a greater say in sentencing and that remission should be earned by prisoners, not given.

Speaking of his the guilt, he said: "There's not a day I don't think of his mum, a very strong woman with a dignified family.

"I sat in court and looked at John Fox's mum crying, my heart went out to that lady, I seen her son and her daughters sitting there, very strong people even though they could have been very vindictive towards me.

"I was looking at that lady and was thinking about how a couple of months before I had lost my own mum and now she had lost her son because of me, it's a very hard thing to live with."

Kelly was 19 when he killed Mr Fox and had been convicted of breaking and entering before.

After he was convicted of manslaughter, he served time in several prisons, including Mountjoy, Wheatfield and Portlaoise.

He said: "Prison is four walls, it affected me in my mind, I'm still doing my life sentence.

"I'm not trying to equate it to the Fox family's life sentence but I want them to know I haven't forgotten their brother, I wish he was still here.

"Nobody sets out I think to take someone else's life, I wake up in the morning and think of him and his mum and brothers.

"The sentence never mattered to me, the incident and that young lad losing his life is what mattered.

"I would sit in prison and hear people give out about getting caught and doing their sentence and I would think how lucky I was to do that sentence because there was a young lad who was gone because of me, I would have done 20 years if I could have reversed it."

He also pleaded with people to think before they act, particularly when alcohol is involved.

He said: "That's what I would say to young people, if you think of picking up a glass or knife or instrument to use on another human, just please think of the consequences...

"You're not thinking properly when you're consuming alcohol to excess, that's when many of the issues involved start."

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