Melody McDermott (left) and the man who attacked her, Kenneth Kelsall (right), outside the UK courthouse where Kelsall was convicted.
Goths worldwide celebrated World Goth Day this week. But another, more bittersweet, victory came today with the news that Kenneth Kelsall has pleaded guilty to the vicious assault on Melody McDermott last October. The 47-year-old UK man and his accomplice, Gareth Farrar, will be sentenced in July.
Much of the case revolved around security footage of the attack. According to attorneys, it began when Kelsall head-butted McDermott, knocking her to the ground of the tram they were riding. McDermott began kicking at the tram doors for help. Farrar pushed McDermott into a corner of the tram. He then turned to McDermott’s companion, Stephen Stafford, and punched him to the ground. Stafford was kicked in the face, sustaining an injury that required stitches. Somewhere in the attack, Kelsall kicked McDermott in the head numerous times, breaking her eye socket. Needless to say, the attack could have been fatal if it had continued.
Farrar’s attorney actually told the court, “He can be seen swinging two punches against the complainant. But he is a man of 43 and effectively good character.” (I’m not sure you can attack a girl half your age, just because you don’t like her looks, and still be of “good character.”)
Although the Daily Mail called the attack a “hate crime,” it was not and could not be prosecuted as such — subcultures such as goth culture are not protected under the UK’s hate-crime laws, despite efforts to gain such protections.
There’s no word yet on the sentences Kelsall and Farrar would face. The Mail said it would be “lengthy,” but quotes Judge Elliot Knopf as saying “they could both face jail sentences.”
Whatever happens, I want to cheer McDermott for bringing charges against her attackers, facing them in court, and doing her part to make sure they face the consequences. It remains to be seen what those consequences will be — and whether they will teach these men not to brutalize others.