By Karen Percy
A Melbourne man has been sentenced to 24 years in jail for the murder of teenager Cayleb Hough, whose remains were found in a shallow mineshaft three months after he was reported missing.
- Thomas Kelson assaulted Cayleb Hough for hours, using weapons like a knife and knuckle dusters
- He was motivated by a “delusional belief” that the 17-year-old had raped and shot Kelson’s father
- The victim’s family and friends applauded the sentence, and told Kelson he was “filth” and “scum” as he was taken from court
Thomas Kelson, 28, was handed a non-parole period of 19 years by Supreme Court Justice Andrew Tinney. Cayleb Hough, 17, died from blunt force trauma and his jaw was broken in two places. Kelson pleaded guilty to the murder charge in June, just before a trial was due to begin. In sentencing, Justice Tinney described the killing as “a brutal and completely unnecessary crime”.
“You killed a young person who was a friend of yours,” Justice Tinney said.
The courtroom erupted into applause as Thomas was sentenced. As Kelson was led from the dock, the teenager’s mother and other relatives and friends yelled abuse at Thomas, screaming “you’re filth” and “you’re scum”. Cayleb Hough’s mother was distressed throughout the hearing. As the judge left the bench, people in court thanked him.
Bashed for hours over ‘delusional’ rape theory
Cayleb Hough went missing in December 2015. His body was discovered in March the following year in a state nature park near Bacchus Marsh, north-west of Melbourne. The court heard he and Kelson had met at a house party in the Melbourne suburb of Skye before Cayleb Hough’s disappearance. They consumed drugs and alcohol and then went together to another home in Collingwood. There, Kelson assaulted the victim for hours because, the judge told him, “[you had] the delusional belief that Cayleb Hough had raped and shot your father”.
“You’re going to die today. You killed my dad … I’m going to get you,” Kelson told the boy.
Kelson also attacked Cayleb Hough with a knife. The teen was bound and gagged with duct tape and put into a car.
Kelson’s lawyers argued he was intending to take Cayleb Hough to hospital, but that was rejected. “You harboured the intention to murder him and to dispose of his body at a location that had been disclosed to you,” the judge said.
The court heard Kelson drove out of town, travelling in convoy with another man and stopping along the way to hit Cayleb Hough repeatedly with knuckle dusters. He threw the weapons down a drain. “The final, fatal attack did not occur in isolation,” Justice Tinney said. “It was [after a] protracted and violent assault … over the course of many hours. “Your drug use has blighted your life.”
The court heard Kelson fled to Argentina after the murder.