‘Being responsible for taking another human life, it’s horrendous… A piece of me had gone that night as well… a piece of humanity was lost.’

As heard on liveline

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There are days when Liveline and its presenter, Joe Duffy, come into their own, uniquely placed as they are to examine the human stories behind so many newspaper headlines that come and go over the years.

Today was one of those days.

Richard Kelly, convicted for the manslaughter 30 years ago of John Fox, spoke at length in an extraordinary interview with Joe Duffy about how he lost some of his own humanity as well on that fateful night in Sligo. March 1st, 1987.

‘Being responsible for taking another human life, Joe, it’s horrendous….. It’s a human being, Joe….  There was a piece of me that had gone that night as well.  There was a piece of humanity that was lost, to know that a human being had lost their life.’

John Fox was from North Tipperary and had been visiting Sligo to see some friends in early 1987, when he encountered Richard Kelly. On the night in question, Richard Kelly had been carrying a hunting knife and, in a fit of anger, stabbed John Fox.

Last month, on March 1st, the 30th anniversary of John’s death, his brother, Declan Fox, phoned in to Liveline, to speak about how the family coped in the aftermath of the manslaughter, and to warn people of the dangers of unprovoked violence.

During the course of today’s interview, Richard Kelly was keen to stress that he never, at any stage, wanted to equate his experience with the experience of the Fox family and, in particular, the mother of John Fox. Richard had seen Mrs Fox in court during his trial, after which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter, serving 6 and a half of those years. However, he did add this perspective.

‘Perverse though it may sound, Joe, but I miss their son as well.’

It might sound a strange thing to say, and it was something Joe Duffy picked up on. Richard explained how the fallout from his actions, the death of John Fox, the realisation that he had taken the life of another human being, had eroded some of his own humanity, and how that was somehow connected to the victim of his attack.

‘Through that loss, and that connection to that young man, Joe, that’s what I mean when I say that I lost something that night as well.”

Joe Duffy’s interview with Richard Kelly was one of the most powerful pieces of radio you will hear this or any other year. As you can imagine, the Liveline team was inundated with text messages and phone calls, many sympathising with Richard Kelly’s position, others not.

It is a programme well worth listening back to in full, and you can do so by clicking here.

© The Listener 2017

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