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New podcast series lifts the lid on Irishman who killed 30 people but escaped capture for three decades

The final episode of the documentary, available from Tuesday will bring listeners back to Ireland, where he grew up.

Artist sketch of Kelly.
Artist sketch of Kelly.

IRISHMAN KIERAN PATRICK Kelly confessed to a thirty-year murder spree in London in 1983 but was only ever convicted of two murders by the English courts.

The sprees began, according to Kelly, in 1953 when he pushed another Irishman in front of a train, and ended in 1983 when he strangled a homeless man in a holding cell. 

The names of notorious serial killers the world over have for decades made headlines, become the feature of tv shows, and have been shrouded in infamy that prompted copycat killers to reinvent them once more. 

But why did Kelly, who confessed to the more than two dozen murders of those within London’s homeless population not follow the same pattern, and how did he manage to escape conviction for three decades? 

A new six-part podcast series, The Nobody Zone, has lifted the lid on the life of the Laois-native, documenting his own account of the crimes through the original confession tapes obtained from London’s Transport Police. 

“He beat people to death, strangled people, stabbed people to death, poisoned them to death, he tried to kill people by pushing them in front of tube trains, he attempted murders where two people survived after Kelly pushed them onto the tracks,” podcast producer and journalist, Rober Mulhearn explained. 

“He didn’t have a signature move, his methodology was varied in terms of weapons but what’s common in his killing is what is known as score-settling or rage.”

Prior to 1983, Kelly had a rap sheet that included minor crimes including theft, and other drunk and disorderly incidents. But while he was being held in a holding cell following an arrest for another minor crime, he strangled a man who was also in custody at the time.

It was during questioning that he admitted to a number of other murders, the first he claimed to be in 1953 when he pushed a man off the platform of Bakerstreet station, and continuing up to his last murder in the holding cell.

Kelly was only ever convicted of two murders – the murder in the holding cell and another in Clapham Commons in London. In 2015, one of the investigating detectives on Kelly’s case in 1983 opened up about the other confessions and drew new attention to the case. 

It was the inspiration behind The Nobody Zone podcast, and with five of the six episodes downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, it has led to people coming forward with new information in recent weeks. 

The first five episodes in the podcast series, which have almost 800,000 downloads, are available now and the final episode is set to be published next Tuesday.

“The Nobody Zone and the Doc On One unit was to trying to piece together  [Kelly's] confession, and to see how many murders we could stand up and do our own investigation. The story wasn’t out there because cops [in London] had similar difficulty to what we had in our investigations.”

The final episode of the documentary, available from Tuesday will bring listeners back to Ireland, where Kelly grew up.

A collaboration project between the RTÉ Doc on One team and the Danish Third Ear Productions Team, it has been translated into five languages – English, Irish, Danish, Spanish and German. It has been downloaded in more than 160 countries. 

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