Kieran Loveridge sentence for killing of Thomas Kelly doubled on appeal

It was understandable that in the moments after the jail sentence given to Sydney youth Kieran Loveridge was doubled, the family of his victim, Thomas Kelly, were focused on their lost loved one rather than the broader significance of the decision.

As Stuart Kelly, 16, so eloquently put it: ''I no longer have a brother, instead I have a hole in my life, and that's something I'm meant to accept.''

But perhaps as the Kelly family mark the second anniversary of the 18-year-old's death over the next few days, they might quietly reflect on the latest twist in what has been a very public case as well as a personal tragedy.

The original sentence of five years and two months given to Loveridge for the string of attacks he conducted in Kings Cross two years ago – including the savage blow that killed Thomas – set off a dramatic chain of events.

Within three months the then O'Farrell government bowed to public pressure and implemented strict mandatory sentencing laws for violent offences fuelled by alcohol.

On Friday, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal resentenced Loveridge to a minimum of 10 years, two months' jail for the night of violence. This included increasing the minimum sentence for the manslaughter offence from four to seven years.

Would the mandatory sentencing laws have been imposed if Loveridge had been sentenced to a decade in jail by Justice Stephen Campbell in the first place?

The Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney-General had originally sought a guideline judgment rather than mandatory sentencing laws, and the latter was understood to have opposed them strongly.

A guideline judgment would have offered courts across the state a clearer path when sentencing offenders in ''one punch'' manslaughter cases and, if Friday's judgment is anything to go by, it may well have indicated that tougher penalties were appropriate.

The three-judge appeal panel led by Chief Justice Tom Bathurst found that the previous sentence had been "manifestly inadequate".

It upheld all seven of the appeal grounds put forward by the Crown, most crucially that sentencing judge Stephen Campbell failed to properly consider the need for general deterrence.

''The use of lethal force against a vulnerable, unsuspecting and innocent victim on a public street in the course of alcohol-fuelled aggression … called for express and demonstrable application of the element of general deterrence as a powerful factor on sentence in this case,'' their honours said in their reasons for judgment.

Some have read the judgment as an attempt by the court to send as clear a message as possible about the issue of alcohol-fuelled violence within the confines of the new laws.

Given the limitations of the new mandatory sentencing laws – such as the need to prove intoxication through a breath or urine test – it may in fact have a greater practical impact.

But such considerations were far from the Kellys' minds on Friday.

"I miss all the things that brothers do together – throwing a ball, laughing, joking, playing,'' Stuart Kelly said.

"I can tell you firsthand that to experience this kind of pain at such a young age is just … it's just too hard."

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