Saturday 20 October 2018

Killer who battered girlfriend (15) to death with rock back on the streets

Keith Kelly pictured outside Mountjoy prison
Keith Kelly pictured outside Mountjoy prison

Patrick O'Connell

Keith Kelly, who battered his 15-year-old girlfriend to death with a rock in the grounds of a convent 23 years ago, is back walking the streets of Dublin after securing licensed release from prison.

The Sunday World’s exclusive pictures of Kelly, the first in almost two decades, show how the now 41-year-old has bulked up during a 17-year-stint behind bars for a killing which horrified Ireland in 1995.

Teenager Melanie Gleeson was discovered naked apart from a pair of black socks in the Peace Garden of the Dominican Convent, Ballyfermot, on November 1, 1995.

A post-mortem later revealed the cause of death was injuries to the head, with destruction of the brain stem and its severance from the spinal chord, lacerations of the brain and multiple skull fractures. that Melanie died of “extremely severe” head injuries, “the destruction of the brain stem” coupled with “high velocity injuries consistent with dropping a rock upon the head”.

Kelly, who is originally from Ballyfermot, south Dublin, was just 18 years old at the time of the murder.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the killing at the Central Criminal Court in 2001. He had admitted manslaughter in the case, but denied murder.

Ms Gleeson died of “extremely severe” head injuries, “the destruction of the brain stem” coupled with “high velocity injuries consistent with dropping a rock upon the head”.

Previously, prosecution counsel Denis Vaughan-Buckley SC told the jury that Kelly had told gardai he had been seeing Melanie and they had just had sex in the grounds of the convent known as the Peace Gardens when a row developed.

He said the accused told gardai that when asked, Melanie had said she had sex with someone else, but that rumours that she was pregnant by that other man were untrue.

Kelly initially told gardai he had found the body and said nothing about his involvement in her death.

He went to Ballyfermot Garda Station to make a statement, but after giving conflicting accounts of when he last saw Melanie, he broke down and said: “I didn’t mean to do it, I didn’t mean to do it.”

Then he told gardai he felt “like a scumbag” and wanted to make a statement.

In a statement, Kelly said he hit Melanie “three times at the tops across the side of the face and across the head” during an argument which happened after they had sex.

Kelly, who was convicted of murder twice after his initial conviction was quashed over issues with the judge’s summing up of the evidence, was sentenced to life in prison.

He was released from prison on temporary release last year and is understood to have been complying with the terms of his licensed release.

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