Daniel Jack Kelsall’s parents Mark and Lynne (in black) outside court on Wednesday. Photo: Daniel Munoz Mr Huxley’s ex-girlfriend Jessica Hall (in stripes) and family members spoke after the verdict. Photo: Nic Walker
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In the weeks after Morgan Huxley was found dead in his Neutral Bay flat, police were interviewing former girlfriends, his flatmate and her boyfriend, and his colleagues.
A young man seen in CCTV footage running after Mr Huxley as he left The Oaks Hotel early on September 8, 2013, was identified as Daniel Jack Kelsall, a kitchen hand and cleaner from the local Sydney Cooking School.
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Dukes, said that when Kelsall was first voluntarily interviewed by police he was not considered to be Mr Huxley’s murderer.
“I just thought he was just strange, to be honest, sorry,” Detective Dukes told a pre-trial hearing in the NSW Supreme Court, glancing at Kelsall in the dock.
It only took a matter of hours for a NSW Supreme Court jury to find on Wednesday that Kelsall stabbed Mr Huxley more than 20 times, declaring him guilty of murder.
After speaking to Kelsall formally that first time on September 24, 2013, when he told them he had never been in Mr Huxley’s apartment, police continued looking at other people.
Mr Huxley had been dating several women at the same time, one of whom he described as a “psycho”, and at least two of them had found out about each other.
The 31-year-old had also been having disputes at work, after the man Mr Huxley rented his business premises from grew enraged when he “mooned” – flashed his bottom – in front of clients.
On September 26, Kelsall rang police to admit he hadn’t been entirely honest in his interview.
Kelsall asked Detective Dukes to meet him in the car park of Woolworths in Neutral Bay, where he told them he had gone to Mr Huxley’s apartment after striking up a conversation with him as he left the pub that morning and the pair had sex.
He told police Mr Huxley fell asleep, so he left the unit, and saw a blonde woman approaching.
“She saw me coming out and I think that’s why he got murdered,” he said, crying.
But soon, Kelsall got legal advice and stopped talking to police. The jury never heard about that conversation in the car park, which was deemed inadmissable.
Forensic tests later showed that Kelsall’s DNA was on Mr Huxley’s penis, his fingerprint was on Mr Huxley’s bedroom door. A shoulder bag Kelsall was seen carrying in the CCTV footage had spots of Mr Huxley’s blood on it, and appeared to have been cleaned.
Investigators also discovered that 16 months earlier, Kelsall had told a GP and a psychiatrist he was having violent, intrusive thoughts about stabbing someone on the way home from work “for the thrill of it”.
The case against him was strong.
But Kelsall appeared to be an unlikely murderer – he was fine-featured and thin, compared to Mr Huxley who worked on wharves, stood at 181 centimetres tall and weighed 90 kilograms.
When Kelsall was arrested on October 4, he was carrying a fantasy novel called Magician. The book, by Raymond E. Feist, tells the tale of Pug, an orphan boy who is apprenticed to a master magician.
Kelsall was adopted by his parents Lynne and Mark, and was raised in New Zealand, where he trained as a chef, before moving to Sydney with his family and working in a restaurant at Balmoral.
His mother, who carried Kelsall’s Pikachu doll – a Japanese comic character – around with her during the trial, said her son was loving, caring and often left sweets on the kitchen bench for her when he got home from work.
His boss at the cooking school, Brett Deverall, told the trial Kelsall quietly tolerated chiding from his workmates about his odd behaviour, his sexuality and his curly red hair.
“The whole time he never raised his voice, even in [celebrity chef] Gordon Ramsay-type situations.”
Kelsall was the only defence witness at the trial and appeared to enjoy the attention, as all eyes in the packed courtroom fixed upon him.
He said that he and Mr Huxley engaged in a deep conversation as they crossed Military Road that night and Mr Huxley invited him into his flat.
It was there, Kelsall told the jury, that Mr Huxley agreed to go upstairs and have a sexual encounter, which was interrupted by a random, unknown attacker.
When Kelsall was under cross-examination and asked about why he didn’t notice the attacker approaching, he smirked and said: “I was concentrating on other things.”
His testimony explained away the forensic evidence and the CCTV footage.
But, perhaps one of the biggest sticking point for the jury, there was overwhelming evidence that Mr Huxley was sexually interested in women and nothing to suggest he ever desired men.
Crown prosecutor Peter McGrath, SC, told the jury that Kelsall’s violent fantasies about murder were a “prophecy”, carried out on Mr Huxley.
“There was no reason for it at all.”
As the jury handed down their verdicts, also finding Kelsall guilty of indecent assault, he did not look at his mother, who was trying to catch his gaze.
He briefly nodded at her as he was taken down to the cells.
Kelsall will face a sentencing hearing next month.
He was also later charged with two counts of possessing child abuse material, to which he has pleaded not guilty, and which will be dealt with in another court.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.