Nominated BEST TRUE-CRIME PODCAST at The British Podcast Awards, 4th Best True Crime Podcast by The Week, The Telegraph's Top Five True-Crime Podcasts, The Guardian and TalkRadio's Podcast of the Week, Podcast Magazine's Hot 50 and iTunes Top 25.
EPISODE TWO HUNDRED AND TEN:
On the Christmas Eve of 1968, former Leeds footballer Dominic Kelly sought revenge on the hotel manager who had sacked him for his bad behaviour. Only being too fueled by drink, anger and arrogance, he would inflict a truly horrifying death on a woman who was entirely innocent.
CLICK HERE to download the Murder Mile podcast via iTunes and to receive the latest episodes, click "subscribe". You can listen to it by clicking PLAY on the embedded media player below.
As many photos of the case are copyright protected by greedy news organisations, to view them, take a peek at my entirely legal social media accounts - Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
The location is marked with a blue exclamation mark (!) below the words 'Bayswater'. To use the map, click it. If you want to see the other murder maps, click here.
SOURCES: This case was researched using some of the sources below.
Dominic KELLY: manslaughter of Maria Candida Pereira DOS SANTOS on 25 December 1968 at Queensway, London, W2. Convicted https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C11026869
UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE:
Welcome to Murder Mile.
Today I’m standing in Queensway, W2; two streets west of the torture of Vincent Keighery, one street south-west of the murderous night porter, a few buildings south of the stabbing US Airman Stanley Thurman, and two streets west of the mysterious taxi driver slayings - coming soon to Murder Mile.
Nestled between Hyde Park and Notting Hill, Queensway is a feeble excuse for a shopping district. Set on a single street, it’s the place to be if you like buying crap and being overcharged for the privilege; whether Union Jack umbrellas which break the second it rains, tatty mugs of disgraced royals with a penchant for shit-stirring and ‘not sweating’, or novelty bags of M&Ms as there’s nothing more British.
At 106 Queensway currently sits a four-storey terrace, with a Chinese restaurant called Duck & Noodle on the ground floor, above are private flats, or (as most residences in the area are) Air B&Bs, hostels or supposedly cheap hotels where tourists get royally ripped-off for essentially renting a broom closet.
Back in late 1968, this was a cheap hostel where the staff of the nearby Winton Hotel slept. In a front facing room on the top floor lived 52-year-old night porter Dominic Kelly, a man who once had a promising career. And yet, unable to accept any criticism or rejection, this petty loser would subject Maria Dos Santos, a 36-year-old chambermaid to one of the most horrible deaths ever.
My name is Michael, I am your tour guide, and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 210: The Loser.
The mark of a person’s success isn’t based on the money they make or the things that they buy, but how well they deal with their failures. For many, failure is all part of growing, but for others, it can be a permanent blight on their lives, which can lead to anger, jealousy, vengeance and even death.
The early life of Dominic Kelly began as the classic story of triumph over adversity.
Born on the 23rd June 1917 in Sandbach, Cheshire, Dominic Kelly was the second youngest of seven to James, a chemical labourer and Ann a housewife. As a family of nine, raised in a small terrace house at 7 Stringer Avenue; times were hard, money was tight and his life was conflicted, as with his father being domineering and critical of his son’s failure, his mother often showered him with love and praise.
Educated at the local secondary school, for the last 18 months, although he didn’t excel academically, as head boy for his year where he really excelled was at football. Having shot-up to an impressive six foot one inches tall making him a decent sprinter and with enough bulk to be an intimidating presence, he quickly gained a reputation as skilled if slightly flashy and hot-tempered player, who would boast about his footwork, lambast his rivals, and was prone to flare-ups when he was pulled off the pitch.
Known to his pals as Dom, as a talented if arrogant player, he never felt his success was enough as he always lived in the shadow of his older brother. John Kelly known as Mick Kelly (ironically to distinguish him from the successful but unrelated scorer Jack Kelly) he played for Accrington Stanley, Leeds United, Barnsley, Bradford City and Bedford Town, amassing twelve appearances but no goals scored.
Dominic Kelly actually began his career as a groundkeeper at Leeds United aged 16. Seen as a gifted player noted for his headers, he was signed to Sandbach Ramblers aged 17, and went professional being signed for Leeds, where he played four games from 1935 to 1938 as a centre half, but (like his brother) he scored no goals, and - much to his chagrin - spent the bulk of his time on the subs bench.
Transferred to Newcastle United in November 1938 for the sum of £1100 (£100,000 today), he played nine games as centre-half, but with his final match being in a four-nil defeat against Coventry City, he didn’t score a single goal in his whole career at Newcastle. Always believing he was better than the team, let down by others and resenting being made to sit another game out when he was clearly ‘the talent’, his professional career wouldn’t come to an end owing to his arrogance, but owing to the war.
With every football match stopped and the stadiums used for military ordinance and bunkers, in 1940, Dominic joined the Royal Signal Corp serving in the Middle East, where he said he was promoted to Corporal, but – for unknown reasons - he would later state “I voluntarily relinquished the rank”.
Being football mad, even the rise of the Nazi’s couldn’t stop his ambition as amid the bullets and blood of Palestine, Dominic played in an Army team called The Wanderers, alongside such luminaries as Tom Finney of Preston, Mickey Fenton of Middlesbrough, Ted Swinburne of Newcastle, Ted Duckhouse of Birmingham City, Albert Cox of Sheffield United, Dick Bell of West Ham and John Galloway of Rangers.
War aside, Dominic had increased his skills as a player as he awaited a return to peacetime…
…but sustaining a career-ending knee-injury, by the time the war was finally over, being demobbed in 1946; aged thirty he was too old to play professionally and with a torn ligament, he was too infirm.
With his dream of playing for England over, Dominic was crushed at the thought of what could have been. But being over six foot and physically fit, a new (if less glamourous) career would present itself.
In 1947, working as a Special Constable for the Newcastle Police, he began playing cricket for Benwell and he represented Northumberland as a member of their 1948 Minor Counties Championship team.
His life wasn’t as glamourous as being a professional footballer, but now he had a nice little house, he had got married, they were trying for a baby, and - in 1951 - he joined the Newcastle upon Tyne City Police, later rising to the rank of Detective Constable in the CID, where he received six commendations; five by a magistrate and one by the Chief Constable, being described as a “diligent and popular officer”.
Like a phoenix, he had risen from the ashes of his smouldering football career…
…only his anger and his arrogance would always get the better of him.
Struggling to accept his own failures, in 1956, following a heated dispute with a senior officer, he was demoted back down to Constable, as this minor celebrity now walked the beat as an ordinary copper.
No longer a worshipped footballer, no longer a local hero and no longer a rising star of the Police force, he skulked the streets as his heavy black boots scraped the pavement, and – this angry arrogant failure - looked for someone to blame for his downfall and a quick way to make money, even if it was illegal.
On the 22nd November 1957 at 11pm, 40-year-old Constable Dominic Kelly entered the Addison Hotel in Byker. Although after-hours, this local PC ordered a pint as the manager totted up the night’s takings of £66 14s and 9d (roughly £2000 today). Hearing a ruckus outside, as PC Kelly suggested the manager investigate, upon re-entering the pub, the barman saw PC Kelly leave and saw that £21 was missing.
Tried at Newcastle Magistrates Court on the 30th of December 1957 – giving the defence that he was anxious as his wife was expecting a baby having miscarried previously – with this being his first offence, the magistrate was lenient on him and having escaped a prison sentence, he was fined £70 plus costs.
It may seem a light sentence, but now branded a criminal, he lost his job as a Police Constable, he had to move out of his force-funded house, he found it difficult to find work, and his marriage hit the skids.
For a while, he worked as a debt collector and a bouncer, but the pain of having lived so well and lost so much was too hard to bear, and – as always – it was the others who were at fault for his failure.
On the 1st of December 1960, in Whitley Bay, Dominic Kelly was charged with embezzlement, for which he served three months in prison, among a slew of other petty criminals who he had helped put away.
Upon his release, he moved to London, initially sending back money to support his wife and children, but as the work dried up and the money stopped, in 1961, he had abandoned his family all together.
With a patchy job history and a criminal record, he worked intermittently as a truck driver and a factory worker, but unable to afford a place to stay or food to eat, he often slept rough and continued to steal.
On the 6th of June 1964, he served 21 days at Pentonville for stealing a crate of milk. On the 10th of December 1964 at Clerkenwell, he served two months for loitering with intent. On the 19th of January 1965 at Bow Street, he was fined £3 and 10s for stealing a wallet from his former place of work. And on 1st March 1967, again at Bow Street, he was sentenced to 14 days in prison for stealing bread rolls.
The shame, the embarrassment and the failure of his demise was something that this fallen football star and commended copper could no longer cope with, having been reduced to the state of a bum.
With the benefit of hindsight, his stratospheric collapse should have made him accept his mistakes, but if anything, it had only made him more bitter and less willing to accept any criticism or rejection.
By 1968, although still an imposing sight, 51-year-old Dominic Kelly was far from the man he once; now sporting a pot belly, thinning brown hair, sunken dark eyes and sometimes a tatty little ‘tash.
On the 1st September 1968, Luke McSweeney, the 30-year-old manager of the Winton Hotel at 35/37 Inverness Terrace in Bayswater, hired Dominic as a night porter - a lowly job on a pitiful wage. Sharing a top-floor room at 106 Queensway with Ronald Jeffrey the day porter, this should have been his route to redemption; given an honest job, a steady income, three square meals and a warm place to sleep.
And yet, it was here that he would subject Maria Dos Santos to a horribly painful death. But why? Did she reject his love, impugn his masculinity, or criticise his failures? No. In fact, it was none of these…
…as being new to the hotel, he barely even knew her.
By 4th December 1968, Dominic had been night porter at the Winton Hotel for three months, by which time he hadn’t ingratiated himself with the staff. Most didn’t know him, didn’t want to know him, or those who did, didn’t like him; as he was rude, angry, late, and – with a sizable chip on his shoulder – he was unwilling to take orders from Luke, the hotel manager, a man almost two decades his junior.
That day, “as a result of his behaviour, I dismissed Kelly and told him to take a week’s notice”, Luke would inform the Police. With his job providing him an invaluable income, meals and a warm bed, all that was required of Dominic was a little humility, only his reply was typically blunt - “you can go fuck yourself”. Having crossed the line and with his dismissal taking immediate effect, Dominic unleashed a volley of pure foulness “and threatened to splash my blood all over the walls”, Luke would state.
Arrogant to the bitter end, although contractually obliged to do so, he refused to hand in his hotel ID, his uniform, the keys to his room and the next day he returned to the hotel demanding his final wage. With Luke (as the spark of his ire) not being in, in the reception of this busy hotel he threatened David the Assistant Manager that if he didn’t receive his money now, “he would smash the place up”.
On both occasions, still fuming, he left without any trouble. Seen as little more than a loudmouth, and a big angry man who was nothing but piss and wind, although scared, few took his words seriously.
Having returned twice more, and (as predicted) acting like a baby who cried because its nappy was soiled, but never thinking that the reason its arse is warm and squishy was because it had shat itself, by 12th December, although Luke had rightfully refused to pay him his last week’s wage, the hotel’s bosses met with Dominic and agreed to give him a half week’s wage of £6 and 15s, which he accepted.
With the former night porter paid off, a minor skirmish should have been averted, only having retained his keys to the hostel, since his dismissal almost two weeks prior, Dominic had been staying in his old room at 106 Queensway, sleeping in his old bed, coming and going as he pleased. The staff and the owners all knew this, but it was deemed too much hassle to evict him and risk incurring his wrath.
Thankfully, by 15th December, the matter was settled when Patrick Nolan, the new night porter moved in, and Dominic had to clear his filthy crap out. But although he left the room, he didn’t leave the keys.
On Thursday 19th - during the weeks which Dominic could have got a new job, a wage and a place to stay, instead of blaming Luke who had dismissed him owing to his bad behaviour – being homeless, Dominic returned to the hotel to demand the rest of his money, having spent what they’d agreed to.
Once again, like a moron without an ounce of brain, threatening to “smash the place up, if I don’t get four quid”, the management locked the door, called the Police, but Dominic fled before they arrived.
Not being the smartest, that night as Luke McSweeney slept, a supposedly mysterious voice plagued the phone in his room by taunting: “Mr McSweeney, this is Dominic Kelly…”, before hanging up. So it wasn’t a real mystery as to who had inflicted the damage which would occur that very night.
At 2:30am, in Room 102 in the basement of the Winton Hotel on Inverness Terrace, Luke was abruptly awoken by a heavy crash, as his window smashed in, sharp shards shattered across his bedspread, and a thick iron railing thudded onto the floor. Dashing up and glaring out of a sparkling hole in the glass, Luke would confirm “I saw Dominic Kelly walking north along the pavement towards Bayswater Road”.
Again, blaming others for his mess, Dominic had done a bad thing…
…only his vengeance against Luke, hadn’t even begun.
By Christmas Eve, the night was cold, as a light smattering of snow and a cold wind whistled down the festive frivolities of Queensway. As pubs heaved with boozy merriment and cheesy carols, being a time for forgiveness, peace on earth and good will to all men… for Dominic, that didn’t apply to Luke, later confessing “I got drunk, thinking of that little homosexual bastard, who sacks people for nothing”.
At 5pm, as Josephine Wilson, the 21-year-old receptionist picked up the phone; “Winton’s Hotel, how may I help you?”, her sing-song tone swiftly ceased as a gruff voice threatened “tell McSweeney, don’t sleep in your bed tonight”, which Dominic asked her to write down as a little Christmas treat to be handed to the manager, but also – as all dense dickheads do – leaving a trail of evidence for the police.
His hatred was of Luke, and no-one else, so having made his threat, Josephine would state “he told me that he was going to put a petrol bomb through the manager’s window that very night. He asked me if either I or my fellow receptionist (Christine) slept anywhere near. I told him not to be stupid. I also added that the manager had changed his room since the incident (when Dominic smashed his window), but he didn’t ask me which room Luke had moved to, and I didn’t tell him. At no time during our conversation did he make any mention of the hotel’s other premises at 106 Queensway”.
At 6:15pm, Luke received a call “I recognised it being Dominic Kelly. I immediately dialled Harrow Road Police Station. I then put both lines together, having heard a female voice answer ‘Harrow Road Police Station’”. Kelly said ‘who’s that?’, she replied ‘Harrow Road police station’, “he stated ‘this is Dominic Kelly’…”, and over the phone to a Police officer, he added “I’m going to burn the hotel down tonight”.
WPC Jane Atkins who took the call would testify: “the man said ‘well now listen, the Winton Hotel, all hell will be let loose there. It will be like a flaming inferno. I said “are you going to give me your name?”, he replied “don’t be bloody funny. This isn’t a joke, it’s going to happen, and I’ll tell you when, between 1am and 2am, this will be a warning to McSweeney, you have got all that, have you?”, she replied “yes, thank you Sir”, he replaced the handset”, and the details were passed to the station officer.
By that point, having threatened to commit arson, you would assume that Dominic would have tried to keep a low profile? But at 11:30pm, like a bad smell whiffing of stale beer, he returned to the hotel. Asked to leave, this time by two Constables who were unaware of the threat, having confronted Luke for one last time, the Police asked him to move on, and he replied “Alright, I’m going up north anyway”.
As Dominic Kelly turned his back, it may have seemed like the danger had passed…
…but as he walked down towards Queensway, his rage only burned hotter.
Being Christmas Eve, although the hotel remained open across the silly season, some of the staff had already headed off home to see their loved ones, or down the pub for a few pints with their best pals.
That evening, Patrick Nolan the new night porter finished his shift at 10pm. With Ronald the day porter away, their shared room on the top floor of 106 Queensway was all his, but he was slow to head back.
Having watched a few festive films on the box in the hotel lounge, at 12:50am on Christmas morning, he headed back to the hostel, stating “the door was locked, and I used my key to enter”.
The hallway was quiet and deserted, as he had expected, “and in the enclosure to the right of the foot of the stairs, there was a mattress and some bags containing paper and other rubbish. They had been there for the fortnight that I have been living there… I went to my room without seeing or hearing anyone else”.
He had no idea who was in or who wasn’t, but then again, it wasn’t his concern. Dressing in a pair of cotton pyjamas, with the radiators on, the duvet up and feeling toasty warm, amidst the festive cheer which slowly died down outside, Patrick started reading a book to help him nod him off to sleep.
At 1:20am, “after reading my book for five minutes, the lights went out”, as the fuse had tripped.
It happened sometimes, so he didn’t see this as a concern, until he opened his door.
“I got out of my bed to investigate. I saw a lot of smoke in the passageway which belched into my room. I didn’t feel a great deal of heat, but I could see nothing”. Doing the right thing, Patrick shouted “fire, fire” to alert his fellow lodgers to the smoke. It was then, “I heard a woman screaming ‘fire’, it was in reply to my shout, it came from the room next door, occupied by the Spanish girl, Maria”.
With the hallway thick with dense clouds of chocking smoke, and the stairwell a slowly rising wall of impenetrable heat, “I went back into my room as I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t see”. Being on the top floor, the only way out was the deadliest way, “I shouted to her to break a window and get out” - which Patrick did in his room, smashing the locks and opening it wide, as a cold winter wind blew in.
“I didn’t hear the girl again”, he would state, but maybe she couldn’t hear him, or understand him.
As a bitter wind blew, “I crawled along the ledge towards 108 Queensway” - his freezing legs in a thin and slowly soaking set of cotton pyjamas shuffling along an icy ledge just one-foot wide, with thick plumes of smoke to his right and a terrifying drop of fifty feet onto the hard concrete to his left - it took all of his concentration not to fall to his death, as a resident in an adjoining building helped him climb in.
Patrick was safe, but Maria was not. Whether this was later survivor’s guilt he would state “just prior to leaving the window, I think I heard the sound of a girl screaming from inside the building”,
That terrifying moment would plague Patrick Nolan for the rest of his life…
…but for Dominic Kelly, he hadn’t an ounce of compassion in his bones.
At 1:30am, he was seen by Patricia Inder, a chambermaid at Winton’s watching the flames. Moments earlier, Gwendoline Jenkins was standing outside Whiteley’s trying to get a taxi-driver to call the fire brigade, when a man - she later positively identified in an ID Parade as Dominic Kelly – aggressively shouted at her, screaming ‘you fucking stupid silly little cow, let it burn, it will go them good’, and when she asked him ‘why don’t you go and help them’, he just shuffled away saying ‘let them burn’.
At 1:36am, the crew of Edgware Road fire station were alerted, arriving within three minutes to see “a terraced shop, the floors above and the basement alight”. Unleashing six pumps to extinguish the inferno, it wasn’t until 3:40am, that it was safe to enter the blackened and badly damaged building, as a water tank had crashed through the attic floor, crushing the staircase from the top to the ground.
Aided by Dr Clarke, in Room 2 on the top floor next door to Patrick’s, “on the edge of a badly charred bed in the corner of the room was an extensively burned young female body. She was unclothed, lying face down and covered with debris from the roof”. 36-year-old Maria Candida Pereira Dos Santos from Portugal had been a chambermaid at Winton’s for six months, she was quiet, well-liked and she had nothing to do with the petty spat between Dominic Kelly and the manager who sacked him. (End)
With her autopsy held at Westminster mortuary by Professor Keith Simpson, with her blood saturated with 100% carbon monoxide, death was concluded as asphyxiation by smoke fumes. And with her body being too horrifically burned, the only way for her cousin to identify her was by an earring.
Being the most likely and the only suspect given the trail of evidence he had left, on Wednesday 8th January 1969 at 10:10pm, Dominic Kelly was found in a grotty little room at 47 Argyle Street in King’s Cross. Taken to Harrow Road Police Station, he didn’t ask about the victims, he just laid the blame on others, stating “I suppose that McSweeney, that little poof has made an allegation about me again?”.
Denying he was anywhere near the hotel or the hostel at the time of the fire, with witnesses testifying he was, and with a set of keys to the front door found in his pocket, he was charged with the unlawful killing of Maria and maliciously setting fire to a dwelling house while Maria and Patrick were inside.
Tried at the Old Bailey on 9th June 1969, although he would plead “I didn’t start the fire”, Judge Mervyn Griffith-Jones would reply “the jury have come to the conclusion that you did. It is a tragedy that you, with your background, should have fallen as you so obviously have done over the last few years”.
But of course, appealing his sentence, he would claim that it wasn’t his fault.
Sentenced to just five years in prison for manslaughter, as they couldn’t prove he had maliciously started the fire, he was released in 1974, and he died eight years later in Croydon, aged sixty-five. It is still uncertain to this day, why he set fire to the hostel, when Luke slept at Winton’s. But then again, as a failure in life who blamed others for his faults, Dominic Kelly was an arrogant loser to the end.
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible, which are freely available in the public domain, including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, and are always incomplete or full of opinion rather than fact, therefore mistakes and misrepresentations can be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken to create a fuller picture. It is not a full and complete representation of the case, the people or the investigation, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity, speed and the drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, and therefore it will contain a certain level of bias and opinion to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated. Murder Mile is just one possible retelling of each case. Murder Mile does not set out to cause any harm or distress to those involved, and those who listen to the podcast or read the transcripts provided should be aware that by accessing anything created by Murder Mile (or any source related to any each) that they may discover some details about a person, an incident or the police investigation itself, that they were unaware of.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
Subscribe to the Murder Mile true-crime podcast
Note: This blog contains only licence-free images or photos shot by myself in compliance with UK & EU copyright laws. If any image breaches these laws, blame Google Images.