HE COULD have been anyone's son.
Thomas Kelly, a country boy from Bowral in NSW, had never partied in Kings Cross before, but on July 7, he decided it was time to experience what all the fuss was about.
His parents warned him about the dangers of venturing into the notorious red light district but it was his mate's birthday, he was in a big group and, surely, the odds of something terrible happening were in his favour.
If only he had known that somewhere else in Sydney, another 18-year-old boy was planning a night in the Cross with his friends, and as police will allege, he was looking for a fight.
As Thomas and his friends moved about the popular nightspots a young man named Kieran Loveridge allegedly assaulted a stranger.
Instead of going home, Mr Loveridge continued to party and, about 10pm, for some unexplainable reason, he allegedly king hit Thomas as he was crossing Victoria St with his girlfriend.
At that moment, Thomas's life and the lives of everyone who loved him changed forever.
Mr Loveridge, however, allegedly took it in his stride.
By the end of the night he had four alleged victims and while three of those lived to tell their story, one was not so lucky.
Just two kilometres down from the party centre where Mr Loveridge was still allegedly "enjoying" a night out with friends, Thomas was being treated for critical head injuries in St Vincent's Hospital emergency department.
The force of the punch had caused him to fall and hit his head...hard.
His family were told to come quickly but it was already too late.
Thomas never breathed on his own again and two days later, his life support was turned off.
In the hours that followed his parents Kathy and Ralph made a desperate plea to the public to come forward with information.
The pressure on police to find the person responsible for such a senseless waste of life was intense.
Detectives combed through hours of CCTV footage, took a mammoth number of witness statements but remained tight-lipped about the progress of their investigation.
But behind the scenes, detectives were trailing Loveridge and on Wednesday the state's Acting Assistant Commissioner Mal Lanyon decided there was enough evidence to make an arrest.
About 7pm, Loveridge was arrested in the grandstands of a Sydney football oval where he was watching a friend play.
He appeared in court on Thursday morning.
His lawyer did not apply for bail.
It will be up to the courts to decide when Mr Loveridge's parents will be reunited with their son.
Thomas's parents will say goodbye to their son at a memorial service expected to be attended by thousands at his former high school on Friday.
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