Accused killers’ bizarre homecoming revealed
Two drunken Irish men who beat an Australian murder charge have been welcomed home by their families.
Christopher McLaughlin, 25, and Nathan Kelly, 23, returned home to Donegal, Ireland, after they were acquitted of the murder of Sydney man Paul Tavelardis.
A Snapchat seen by News Corp Australia shows Kelly relaxing on a couch.
"Happy boys Nathan's home, Awww," the caption to the image, which showed Kelly and another man who was holding a baby, said.
However, there was no party at the local pub and it was understood they were drinking tea with their families instead of alcohol.
A Sydney jury last week found the men were too drunk to have murdered indigenous man Paul Tavelardis, a 66-year-old who suffered leukaemia, because they argued they attacked in self defence.
Mr Tavelardis' son Bradley hit out at the sentence, saying it set a worrying precedent particularly when he was attacked by two fit men in their 20s.
The Irishmen, who had been on a 12-hour bender, had originally offered to plead guilty to manslaughter.
The NSW Department of Public Prosecutions rejected the offer, pressing ahead with the murder charge which did not stick.
Ciaran MacLochlainn, a solicitor for the Irishmen's families said from his office in Buncrana on the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal, said: "A man has died, there is nobody celebrating. They are here at home and their families are relieved".
"The families were very concerned for the family of the poor man that died."
He said that the Irish tradesmen did not intend to kill anyone, but were too drunk to know what they were doing.
"They weren't used to swimming pools and sunny days, they had far too many drinks at home then they went out for some more," he said.
Mr MacLochlainn said the families had been worried about their sons when they travelled to Australia.
Kelly and McLaughlin had been drinking ciders at the pool at their apartment block since midday in Grosvenor Cres, Summer Hill on December 28, 2018.
They went to the Summer Hill Hotel but were kicked out because they were too drunk.
CCTV footage played in court also showed them legless, laying on the ground at a railway station underpass near the pub.
Witnesses then saw them driving Kelly's blue Toyota before they returned to Grosvenor Cres where they came across Mr Tavelardis, 66, at 12.30am on December 29, 2018.
The New South Wales Supreme court heard that the men repeatedly kicked and punched Mr Tavelardis, who died of head injuries in the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on January 7, 2019.
High flying Sydney barrister Margaret Cunneen, a former prosecutor, secured the acquittal.
Mr MacLochlainn praised the legal teams in Australia and said the Irishmen had received a fair trial.
Kelly and McLaughlin had been making good money in the Sydney building industry, like many Irishmen who moved to Australia looking for higher wages.
Kelly's family have given up the lease on the local pub in Glengad, four hours drive north of Dublin, with the family having a quiet dinner and cups of tea to mark their return.
The small farming community on the Inishowen peninsula is an isolated outpost on the Irish coast, with villages containing little more than a pub and shop.
Average wages in Donegal are $39,000 per year, compared with $89,000 per year in Australia.
Some local workers leave at 4am on a Monday morning to drive four hours for work in Dublin then come back again at midnight on Fridays.
However, after almost two years in jail on remand, it was understood that they were relieved to be home.
The Irishmen's visas expired while they were in jail and they waited in court for Immigration officials to take them to Villawood Detention Centre while they awaited a flight, which landed in Dublin on Wednesday Australian time.
Australian Border Force said in a statement: "The ABF can confirm these individuals have voluntarily departed Australia.
"The ABF continues to progress the removal of non-citizens who do not hold a visa as soon as practicable, subject to completion of any custodial sentence or other outstanding matters, and in consideration of any COVID-19 restrictions and requirements."
Originally published as Accused killers' bizarre homecoming revealed