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Tough laws for ‘king-hit’ crimes

Wednesday, 22nd January, 2014

Premier Barry O’Farrell (left) with State MP John Williams in September last year during a visit to Broken Hill. Mr O’Farrell announced tougher assault laws yesterday, following a string of violent drunken behaviour at Sydney’s CBD streets. Premier Barry O’Farrell (left) with State MP John Williams in September last year during a visit to Broken Hill. Mr O’Farrell announced tougher assault laws yesterday, following a string of violent drunken behaviour at Sydney’s CBD streets.

By Darrin Manuel

King hit, coward’s punch, cheap shot, sucker punch. The name for one-punch killings tends to vary, but now there is a defined punishment.

Under new legislation announced by NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell yesterday, anyone who carries out a fatal one-punch assault while under the influence of alcohol or drugs will face a mandatory eight-year minimum sentence.

He said parliament would look to pass a raft of new measures including a one-punch law that would have a 20-year maximum, rising to a 25-year-maximum where drugs and alcohol are involved.

Additionally, maximum penalties for serious assaults involving drugs and alcohol will increase by two years and mandatory minimums will also apply.

“We are sending a clear message about alcohol and drug-induced violence,” the premier told reporters in Sydney yesterday.

“...what’s been happening on Sydney’s CBD streets and other parts of the state demands strong action and this government is committed to delivering that strong action.

“It’s not acceptable for people to go out, get intoxicated, start a fight, throw a punch, whether it’s a ‘coward’s punch’ or another punch, and think they’ll get away with it.

“Under these measures they will face tough consequences.”

Barrier Local Area Command Crime Manager, Mick Stoltenberg, urged all locals to think very carefully about their behaviour before embarking on a drunken night out in future.

“On a local level police are concerned with the instances of alcohol related violence that take place.

“We are not saying that it is out of control, however there are the instances where the actions of one or two can have a negative impact on those around them who are just wanting to have a good time.

“If you are going to go out and have a few drinks, make sure that you abide by the law, drink responsibly, don’t treat the night like a prize fight and most importantly, look after yourself and your mates.

“Zero tolerance to this sort of behaviour is the only way that things can be addressed by police and the community.”

Drunken troublemakers and steroid users will also face massive penalties under the new laws. 

On-the-spot fines issued by police to deal with disorderly behaviour in entertainment hotspots will be raised from $200 to $1100, while the maximum penalty for the possession or illegal use of steroids will increase from two years to 25 years.

The premier said the government would soon introduce a multimillion-dollar community awareness program aimed at curbing binge drinking and alcohol-fuelled violence.

Bottleshops will also pay the price under the new rules, with a forced state-wide closing time of 10pm. 

Not everyone agrees with the new laws, with some legal groups arguing that there are sufficient laws in place that merely need to be better administered.

Parliament is expected to resume on Wednesday or Thursday next week to introduce the legislation. -BDT/AAP

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