Woman’s ordeal ‘could have been worse’ but for her bravery in fighting to escape
This is the dangerous predator facing a lengthy jail sentence after he admitted kidnapping a female jogger.
Jeffrey Kelly forced the kicking and screaming woman into his red Audi but she fought back fiercely to escape from the 31-year-old and ran off.
Police believe Lurgan man Kelly had been stalking lone females on the Sunday morning in May last year before approaching the jogger in Portadown and forcing her into the boot of his car.
Kelly admitted charges of kidnapping the woman and robbing her of her mobile phone at Craigavon Crown Court last week.
A further charge of false imprisonment was left on the books by the Public Prosecution Service.
Remanding the kidnapper back into custody until November 22, Judge Roseanne McCormick QC adjourned sentencing pending the completion of a probation report.
Previous courts heard how the victim was out for a Sunday morning jog on May 10 last year when Kelly grabbed her at Kensington Park, just off Long Lane in Portadown.
He dragged his “kicking and screaming” victim to the boot of his red Audi car and parked nearby — but twice the terrified woman managed to escape.
According to the police case, Kelly had been stalking lone females that morning and when he was initially charged a few days after the offence, a detective said the consequences for the victim could have been a lot worse “except for her bravery and determination.”
“She states that she was dragged for about 21 metres to the parked car,” said the officer.
The detective added: “She was put into the boot by the male who she described as being about 6ft tall, average build, blond hair with stubble and wearing dark clothes and a dark hoodie.”
The woman managed to get out but her attacker forced her back in and as she continued to fight back fiercely, she managed to kick her way out for a second time and run away.
A member of the public who heard screaming saw a red Audi A4 driving away while the victim managed to note the registration plate, the court was told.
Following a police appeal on social media, other women have come forward because “they believe that they were being stalked by this male.”
Police enquiries on the registration plate brought police to Kelly who was arrested, interviewed and picked out of a police video identification parade by the woman he kidnapped.
The court heard that when police arrived at his house, there was “dark clothing” being dried and Kelly told cops his mother had washed it that morning “because it was dirty.”
He denied any involvement in the random kidnapping, provided police with two alibi witnesses and claimed there were “at least four” other cars similar to his in the local area.
By changing his plea last Wednesday Kelly, from Brookehill in Lurgan, abandoned his lying account and vindicated his victim’s account of her ordeal.
At a previous bail hearing just two days after the attack, a detective said police were objecting to bail because they feared Kelly would commit further offences or would interfere with the witness who had been left “extremely shaken” by the incident.
District Judge Amanda Henderson agreed, saying the “very serious” offences amounted to “effectively a random enforced snatching of a female from the street.”
She said there was evidence that a car allegedly matching Kelly’s was involved and he had been picked out of a police line-up so, “I’m satisfied that there is evidence to connect him.”
Refusing bail, the judge said she had a “real fear that there’s a risk of reoffending” and risk to the public “given the random and persistent nature of the actions on this morning.”
At the time the attack on the jogger provoked widespread revulsion and local politicians urged anyone with information to assist the police.
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie revealed one of his constituents witnessed the “traumatic incident” which he described as an attempted abduction.
He said his constituent saw a woman being pushed into the boot of a car by a man.
“It was very frightening. Screaming was heard and the police were called,” said Mr Beattie.