Chance encounter helped shed light on my dad's murder: Kielty

Cat Deeley and Patrick Kielty at the 2012 Glamour Women of the Year Awards in Berkeley Square London
Cat Deeley and Patrick Kielty at the 2012 Glamour Women of the Year Awards in Berkeley Square London Cat Deeley and Patrick Kielty at the 2012 Glamour Women of the Year Awards in Berkeley Square London

CO Down comedian Patrick Kielty has told how a chance encounter with an audience member at a gig revealed new information about his father's murder.

Three years ago, while doing a show in Belfast, the Dundrum comic was approached by a woman who told him why his father might have been targeted by loyalists.

Businessman and prominent GAA member Jack Kielty (45) was gunned down by the UFF as he sat in his office in Dundrum, Co Down in 1988.

His teenage son, who would later rise to stardom as a stand up comic with The Empire Strikes Back, as a TV presenter and radio DJ, was pictured as a pallbearer at his funeral.

Investigative journalist Roger Cook had exposed a local protection racket being run by UDA commander James Craig in his current affairs show The Cook Report, but Craig then tried to sue the programme.

William Bell, Delbert Watson and David Curlett were eventually sentenced to life for the murder but were freed in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

"This woman told me that her husband and my dad had been going to give evidence in the trial against James Craig," Kielty said.

"And I didn’t know that. Apparently they gave evidence behind a screen but then the trial collapsed and both men were then identifiable.

It is now claimed that Jack Kielty was shot to send out a warning to others to keep quiet. Craig was never brought to justice as he was himself shot dead by the UDA a few months later.

"My dad was a brave man but it was my mum who wanted to protect us. She’s the one who raised the family and kept us together. She was 46 when he died and she never remarried," he told the Mail on Sunday's Event Magazine.

As the 44-year-old, prepared for his show at the Edinburgh festival, he revealed he had been reflecting on how he missed having his father in his life as he approached the age at which he was killed.

'PK' said he believed his late father would have got "a kick" out of his showbiz life.

"I’m 44 now and my dad died when he was 45. You never know what’s around the corner.

"My dad would get a great kick out of how my life is at the minute, so that’s what I miss."

Kielty is married to glamorous presenter Cat Deeley, but revealed the love affair began up in the air.

He had worked with presenter Deeley on TV talent show Fame Academy - but it was a last-minute flight across the Atlantic that changed everything.

"Cat was in LA and I was in Northern Ireland, so I texted her to wish her a happy birthday.

"When she said she was having a birthday lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel, I said I'd be there. She told me to go to sleep as I was drunk.

"That was 2am. I got up at 5am, went to Belfast airport for 6am, got the 7.15am flight to Heathrow, landed at 8.30am, took off again at 9.40am and arrived in LA at 1.15pm.

"I was at the Beverly Hills Hotel by 2.15pm. When I walked in, Cat looked at me and said: 'Oh, you're good!"'

Kielty said there was always "a spark" between them, adding: "Unless someone was stupid enough to get on a plane, nothing would have happened."

The pair got married in September 2012 at a secret ceremony in Rome.