A drug addict burglar who murdered a loving 88-year-old grandfather during a break-in has been jailed.
Dennis Kellond, known as “Kipper” to his eight adoring grandchildren, was killed by burglar Darren McClean who smashed into his home and brutally assaulted him with punches and kicks, so he could find money to pay drug dealers, a judge was told.
Mr Kellond had told his daughter Kate that he he intended to finish all of his life projects by the time he was aged in his mid 90s just the day before, the court heard.
McClean, 42, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 32 years today after a jury unanimously convicted him of killing the pensioner, who was found collapsed under a chair in the kitchen of his bungalow home.
Judge Jonathan Black, jailing McClean, said: “The fulfilling life led by Mr Kellond, brought to an end by you Darren McClean, is a polar opposite of the lifestyle with which you have engaged throughout your adult life.
“You are a drug addict and you committed numerous offences to fund that addiction. There have been a number of occasions where the court has imposed a sentence intended to assist you and help you with your drug addiction but you have repeatedly failed to engage.
“You instead embraced a life of indolence punctuated by regular abuse of drugs and alcohol.”
At an emotionally charged sentencing hearing at Guildford Crown Court, 11 members of Mr Kellond’s family attended to condemn McClean, who sat with his head bowed throughout.
James Newton-Price QC, prosecuting, read out a biography of Mr Kellond’s life which told how he was born on November 15 1931 in Paddington, London, and was briefly evacuated as a child during the Second World War.
During the war, Mr Kellond returned to London where he did well in chemistry at school, the court heard. He did his national service as a corporal and attended to the safe disposal of unexploded wartime bombs.
Mr Kellond worked as a research chemist for the same company for 46 years, where he created fragrances for Johnson & Johnson baby baths and boots, the court heard.
His wife Sylvia died in 2013 and he lived alone at the Priory Gates bungalow on Bletchingley Road, Godstone, Surrey, where he was supported by his three children and grandchildren.
Daughter Kate Kellond said: “I last spoke to Dad on the Friday, the day before the attack. We laughed about Trump’s suggestion of injecting people with bleach.
“We spoke about Captain Tom approaching his 100th birthday and reaching number one in the charts. He told me he thought 100 was too old.”
Mr Kellond’s other daughter Anne said: “The fact that his life ended so violently and we were not able to protect him is completely unbearable.
“It is so unfair that what gave him the most pleasure, living in his own home, should have made him a target for this attack.”
Peter Kellond, describing the moment he found his father dead, said: “He did not look like my dad, I could not do anything to fix the situation and it broke my heart.”
Several grandchildren told how they called Mr Kellond “Kipper” and told the judge how their grandfather had missed his great-granddaughter’s first steps and would not attend two upcoming weddings.
During the course of his trial, the jury heard how McClean, who was on bail at the time he murdered Mr Kellond, had used Mr Kellond’s phone to call his drug dealers and paid them £200 in cash shortly after the killing.
He had used an ornamental frog sat outside Mr Kellond’s home to smash a window pane and used his hand to open the lock to the front door, which he entered and met the pensioner, standing at just 5ft 7ins in height, in the entrance hall.
Judge Black told the defendant: “At that time you had a choice. The obvious choice would have been to turn around and remove yourself from the scene. You did not do so. Instead you launched an unprovoked and sustained, violent assault upon Mr Kellond causing a number of internal and external injuries to his head, his neck and his torso.
“It was a brutal assault. Mr Kellond would not have been in any position to resist you.
“You made no attempt to ascertain the extent of Mr Kellond’s injuries, no attempt to render any first-aid to him and no attempt to alert the emergency services, even anonymously, of the need to attend. What you did do, almost immediately, was to use Mr Kellond’s mobile telephone to telephone your drug dealer.”
McClean had 41 convictions for 117 separate offences on his record. The serial offender had received jail sentences for crimes including theft, burglary, assault, fraud and drugs offences.
Around 19 days after he was arrested by murder squad detectives, who linked McClean to the scene from DNA and CCTV evidence, a solicitor instructed by the suspect informed police that two other men were responsible for the killing.
Both men, who were innocent, were fully investigated by Surrey Police on suspicion of murder and McClean later abandoned his story, where he claimed they had menaced him with claw hammers because he owed them money.
Ali Bajwa QC, defending McClean, said: “He does wish to convey to the court his remorse and secondly he wishes to make it clear that his concern is not for himself serving the minimum term, his concern is for his mother who has stood by him throughout his 24 years addiction and she has stood by him today. He knows that the effect of his conviction is going to be mostly felt by her.”
McClean, of Coney Grove, Bletchingley, Surrey, had denied murder but was convicted following a six day trial.
He had admitted to an alternative charge of manslaughter on the first day of his trial and admitted burglary in relation to Mr Kellond.
A pair of cufflinks belonging to Mr Kellond, purchased in 1959 and thought to have been an engagement present, were taken from the pensioner’s home and never found, but a picture of them was found on McClean’s partner’s phone.
Before his sentencing hearing began, McClean admitted one further count of burglary, relating to an incident on December 15 2018 where he and another man had visited a property on Frith Park, East Grinstead, West Sussex, to look at a wardrobe which was for sale, but McClean used the opportunity to go into another room and steal the victim’s purse and its contents.
He also admitted three counts of fraud relating to the same day, where he went and used a Barclays and Santander bank card to buy groceries totalling just under £80.
Judge Black sentenced McClean to three years for the burglary and nine months on each count of fraud, all to run concurrently with his life sentence.