Man sentenced to 32 years for murder of pensioner in Godstone
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Darren John Robert McClean, 42 of Coneybury in Bletchingley is behind bars for 32 years for the murder of 88-year-old Dennis Kellond in April.
McClean was sentenced today after being found guilty of murder and burglary at Guildford Crown Court yesterday (21 October), following a week-long trial.
On the morning of Saturday, 25 April, in the early weeks of lockdown, Dennis was at his home in Godstone. Dennis, a widower who lived alone, was visited by one of his daughters, bringing him his week’s food and newspaper.
Not long after she left, McClean broke into Dennis’ house, having spent over an hour already in Godstone looking for somewhere to steal from to fund his drug habit.
McClean smashed through the glass pane in Dennis’ front door using a garden ornament, and then reached through to open the front door, badly cutting his hand in the process.
Hearing the commotion, Dennis walked into the hallway and was confronted by McClean.
Rather than leaving, McClean struck Dennis a number of times in a sustained and deliberate attack which caused a fatal brain injury.
McClean then went on to steal a number of items, including Dennis’ mobile phone, wallet, and a pair of gold cufflinks that his late wife had bought him as an engagement present.
McClean made no attempt to call an ambulance or call for help but instead used Dennis’ phone to call his drug dealers. It is believed he later went on to sell the cufflinks although they have never been found.
Dennis was found in his home by his son on the morning of Monday, 27 April. Police and South East Coast Ambulance then attended and a murder investigation was launched by the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team.
CCTV footage, witness accounts and DNA at the scene identified McClean as the main suspect and he was arrested on Thursday, 30 April and charged the following day. Upon his arrest, McClean consistently lied to police, claiming that two men made him break into the house and then pushed past him to cause the injuries to Dennis which led to his death, in an attempt to frame them for the murder.
It was only on the first day of his trial, when faced with the body of evidence against him, that McClean admitted he was the only person in the house and the one who had caused Dennis’ death. He then tried to say that his death was an accident which resulted in his family having to endure a week-long trial and hear how their father was brutally murdered.
Detective Inspector Gareth Hicks, who led the investigation, said: “Dennis Kellond’s death has robbed a family of a father of three, a grandfather of eight and a recent great-grandfather, and is something they will never come to terms with. Our thoughts remain with them and we hope that this sentence will bring some closure for them. We have spoken to them since the sentencing and they want to thank the local community and Surrey Police for their support at this difficult time.
“The way McClean broke in to a vulnerable and elderly pensioner’s home to take advantage of him with the intention of stealing from him is reprehensible enough. To then take his life in such a callous and brutal way is simply unforgivable.
“The team, including Major Crime Team officers, forensics, the neighbourhood team and the intelligence team, worked tirelessly to ensure that we identified whoever was responsible for Dennis’ murder and that he was brought to justice. Tying up all the evidence to ensure McClean was put behind bars was the most challenging aspect of our full and thorough investigation, and was made more complicated due to the web of lies spun by McClean.”
The family of Dennis Kellond have issued the following statement:
“We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in the process that resulted in today’s sentence.
“We are grateful to the people who came forward with information relevant to the case and to those who gave evidence in court.
“Above all, we are especially indebted to every single person who worked as part of the police investigation. Their kindness, dedication, professionalism and their willingness to go above and beyond has made a huge difference to us as a family.
“Our dad was a major part of all our lives and although the guilty verdict does not change what has happened, we at least have peace of mind that justice has been done.”