Lurgan man who attempted to kidnap woman given nine-year sentence

Lurgan man who attempted to kidnap woman given nine-year sentence

Jeffrey Kelly.

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A sexual predator who stalked several women before targeting a lone female walker, heaving her “kicking and screaming” twice into the boot of his car was handed a nine year sentence.

In addition to the jail sentence, Judge Roseanne McCormick QC labelled 32-year-old Jeffrey Kelly as a dangerous offender who posed a significant risk to the public and ordered that he will be subject to an extra four years on licence when released.

Sentencing the violent predator at Craigavon Crown Court, the judge said he had not just caused “significant psychological trauma” to his victim but his actions had also caused terror for public safety and an outcry as a result of the shocking incident.

With the victim and her parents watching proceedings by videolink, Judge McCormick praised her bravery and courage as she “kicked her way out the boot of his vehicle not once but twice” before setting herself on a determined path to get her life back in order and “tackle her own feelings.”

Quoting from her statement Judge McCormick told the court that for the victim, “it was a relief that I was still alive - I thought it was the end when this was happening.”

On the other hand, said the judge, Kelly’s life and offending had drink and drug abuse in the background and he had “failed to learn any lessons” from previous disposals.

Last December Kelly, from Brookhill in Lurgan, entered guilty pleas to kidnap and robbery of his victims mobile of phone on 10 May 2020 while a further charge of false imprisonment was “left on the books” by the PPS as it was subsumed by the kidnapping offence.

Summarising the case during her hour long sentencing remarks, Judge McCormick said the victim, a female teacher, had been listening to music while out for a walk in Portadown that Sunday morning when Kelly “appeared from a hedge on the left hand side of the alleyway, grabbed her by the neck and body and dragged her towards Kensington Gardens” where she could see a car parked and the boot lid open.

“She told him to take whatever he wanted but he didn’t speak, he just grunted with the effort of the struggle,” said the judge adding that with the terrified victim “kicking and screaming,” Kelly “heaved” her into the boot on two occasions but that both times, she managed to kick and struggle free.

The second time, Kelly “shoved her away and told her ‘run’ and run she did,” to her parents house in an understandably hysterical state where eventually, she was able to tell them and the police what had happened.

Praising the “swift police investigation,” Judge McCormick outlined how Kelly was arrested within hours of the attack after witnesses came forward.

Detectives were able to ascertain that in the lead up to the kidnap, Kelly had been driving around, stalking other women before selecting his intended victim who Judge McCormick said was alone and vulnerable as she walked along listening to music on headphones.

A man who witnessed the attack told cops the victim “gave as good as she got” and the judge said one of the women stalked earlier that morning was so concerned about the distinctive red Audi that she noted the registration down.

Judge McCormick revealed that from that piece of information, the police were able to put Kelly at Lurgan park the previous Thursday evening, “repeatedly driving past” a 16-year-old girl who he asked “if she was single.”

Arrested at his home with his clothes in the washing machine, Kelly accepted he was in the area at the time of the kidnapping but denied doing anything wrong, labelling the evidence against him as “a load of b***s” and declaring he “didn’t have her in my f*** car.”

After Kelly confessed his guilt, he contended the motivation behind the incident was not sex but robbery in that he intended to steal the victim’s phone and sell it to buy drugs but during her damning sentencing remarks, Judge McCormick said she “rejects his representations.”

She explained it was the incident the previous Thursday and Kelly’s four internet searches in the 15 minutes before he bundled his petrified victim into his car that lead her to a different conclusion.

Judge McCormick revealed that Kelly had searched for “Portadown escorts and erotic massage” and “escorts Lurgan” and questioned why, if he wanted to steal a phone, he forcibly put the victim into the boot the second time at a stage when he had her phone and why target a lone female and not any of the lone male walkers he claimed he saw that morning.

She further revealed that at the time of the kidnap, Kelly was on licence for GBH when he smashed a bottle into the face of a 16-year-old boy who was left disfigured and requiring reconstructive surgery.

Judge McCormick said although she had considered imposing an indeterminate sentence, akin to a life sentence, she had concluded that an extended custodial sentence would provide sufficient protection for the public.

Although jail sentences usually attract automatic remission and release at the half way point, because Kelly has been given an extended custodial sentence, from that half way point it will be up to the Parole Commissioners whether it is safe to free Kelly and under what conditions.

Even when released, and Kelly could serve the full nine years, he will be subject to licence conditions for an extra four years.

The prosecution had applied for a Violent Offences Prevention Order but the judge said given the “significant sentence” Kelly is serving, she did not believe a VOPO was necessary.

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