Written by John Sutton
November 14, 2013
This week saw the announcement by the Attorney General of NSW of a “one punch” law. The law is designed to make it easier for the prosecution to secure a conviction in matters like the Thomas Kelly killing and manifest an intention to impose a severe penalty for those found guilty. But is the law required? Let us remember Loveridge pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr. Kelly and manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 25 years jail whereas this new law has a maximum of 20 years
The reality is the law, in this area is an irrelevance if prevention is what we want to achieve. And prevention is by far the best course. These offences, categorised in whatever level of assault, will continue until there is an educational and cultural shift in the Australian psyche about alcohol. Society has managed to break the bond with the tobacco companies and now has to have the courage to do the same with alcohol. I do not for one minute suggest we all become abstinent but we do need to be far better at recognising the danger of alcohol. We have managed to enforce the PCA laws for the benefit of society when it comes to operating a motor vehicle, there now needs to be the same level of thought and education put into the general consumption of alcohol.
How much balanced thought do you think is being practised by young males at Kings Cross on a Saturday night when they are full of alcohol and peer pressure? Virtually none is the answer. The fighting we see is most likely base level, instinct and reaction. The finding of Campbell J in R v Loveridge (Thomas Kelly killing) found comments made by Loveridge showed an intent to ‘bash’ someone which puts him in a different category. I would strongly suggest there is more than sufficient law to deal with this type of event.
The sentence passed on Mr. Loveridge seems to be very generous and tipped in his favour. In my view it is overly generous to him. But we have a Court of Criminal Appeal to review matters such as this. We do not need further legislation to deal with a fixable error.An appeal will inevitably be filed and no doubt a guideline judgement will be delivered. We wait and see.
New South Wales Attorney-General Greg Smith is drafting a bill based on a Western Australian law known as the ‘one-punch’ law. Report by James Thomas. John Sutton (Partner & Senior Criminal Lawyer Armstrong Legal) comments on newly proposed “One Punch” Laws – SRC: Today Tonight Thursday 14/11/13.
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