A man has been handed a life prison sentence and will serve a minimum of 21 years for the brutal murder of a dad-of-one on a Pitsea street.

Chris Carroll, 20, of Pevensey Close, Pitsea, appeared in Chelmsford Crown Court this morning for sentencing after he was found guilty of murdering Darren Kelly following a six-week trial.

Judge Christopher Ball QC said that Mr Kelly, 42, of Voysey Gardens, was lured to his death by a "modern-day lynch mob" after he was wrongly thought to be a paedophile.

When he told Carroll of his prison sentence, Carroll stared straight ahead.

As he was taken down to custody, he gave a "thumbs up" sign to his family.

Yesterday, two 17-year-old boys and a 16-year-old girl, who were all accused of murder, and cannot be named for legal reasons, were all cleared.

They were all released from court yesterday.


Carroll had denied inflicting lethal stab wounds on lorry driver Darren Kelly.

A jury at Chelmsford Crown Court saw through his lies, finding him guilty yesterday following a six week trial. 

Twelve jurors returned a unanimous verdict that Carroll was the sole person responsible for the brutal killing following 10 hours and 15 minutes of deliberations.

The three youths, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were discharged from court yesterday afternoon and will face no further action.

As the verdicts were delivered, gasps and cries could be heard from the public gallery, where the families of the accused sat.

When Carroll was told he had been found guilty of murder, he smiled and shook his head before being taken into the cells.

When he gave evidence last week, Carroll told the court that he gave Mr Kelly "a couple of whacks".

He claims the two 17 year-old boys chased after Mr Kelly, and insisted he was nowhere near him when he was stabbed.

Carroll claimed he was only aware a knife was involved when he was handed it by the by the girl, who was 15 at the time, and told to get rid of it.


The knife used to stab Darren Kelly

During the trial, the court heard that as the group walked back to Carroll's dad's house in Kenneth Road, Pitsea, on Tuesday, October 20.

Carroll threw his hooded top into a wheelie bin in St Mary’s Crescent, Pitsea.

Later that evening he threw the hunting knife used to stab Mr Kelly into Opal Lake, near Burnt Mills Road.

Forensic tests confirmed the knife had also been used to slash the tyres of Mr Kelly’s car, which was parked in Edinburgh Way, so he could not escape the attack.


Mr Kelly, 42, of Voysey Gardens, Pitsea, died at Basildon Hospital hours after he was lured to Caister Drive, Pitsea.

He had been stabbed six times, including twice in the lungs.

Members of the public desperately tried to save his life by administering first aid before paramedics and an air ambulance arrived.

The court heard that the teenage girl had arranged to meet Mr Kelly via online messaging app Whisper.

Mr Kelly thought he had been speaking to a woman and there was no evidence that he was interested in underage girls.