With the ever-increasing incidence of 'one punch' deaths and the subsequent low sentences given to offenders for manslaughter, the Victorian community has had enough. We can no longer accept the ridiculously low minimum sentences handed down to offenders. Currently, history shows that no sentence for a 'one punch' death has received more than 10 years. The following are such examples:
• The killer of Justin Galligan 16, received a good behaviour bond with no conviction.
• The killer of Cameron Lowe 17, received 6 yrs but the Court of Appeal reduced that sentence to 3 years in youth justice. He was later released after one year in detention.
• The killer of Thomas Kelly 18, received 4 years, now being appealed by the OPP in NSW.
• The killer of Beau Lawson 30, father of 2, received 6 yrs 3 months.
These are examples of how the system is failing. These lenient sentences do not reflect community expectations and is not considered fair justice. A 'one punch' death is not a result of a push gone wrong, but the deliberate and sometimes unprovoked assault on a human being. A closed fist is a lethal weapon. We can no longer watch our loved ones being killed or sustain horrendous long-term injuries and the ripple down effect it has on hundreds of people and the community.
We ask the Victorian Government to instruct the Attorney General to swiftly introduce legislation that will identify that a 'one punch' death is classified as manslaughter in the most serious case falling short of murder. If the charge of manslaughter is difficult to prove a new 'one punch' law needs to be established to rectify this. We need the introduction of significantly increased minimum sentences, similar to 'one punch' laws in WA and NT. Under this new legislation there would be no requirement for the prosecution to prove the offender knew the punch would cause death. All that is necessary for conviction is that there was an assault, that the assault was unlawful and that the victim died as a direct or indirect consequence. The legislation also needs to allow the judges to give the maximum sentence or close to it, without the fear of appeal by the defence. Complacency is no longer acceptable, or lack of vigilance in reviewing the
criminal justice system in striving for improvements. The community understands that there can be a range of compelling extenuating circumstances, but for the majority of offenders there needs to be clear, strong sentencing proportionate to the crime. The community believes that increased sentences will create a deterrent, send a clear message to offenders and provide justice to the families of the deceased. We need to ensure that 'one punch' legislation is not just copied from other states in Australia, but reflects a serious review taking into account our outdated laws. Allow the campaigners to stop, tell them their job is done so they can grieve and enjoy the beautiful memories of their loved ones who have been victims of these 'one punch' deaths. Please support our petition and help make a difference. Whilst we cannot change the outcome for previous victims, we can try to change the attitudes and alcohol-driven culture that is so out of hand, we can at least ensure that when 'one punch' takes another life, the laws will provide the justice expected by the community.
Give confidence back to the community that the Government has listened, please review and pass the legislation to update these laws. If you would like to join Michelle's petition visit: www.change.org/p/stop-one-punch