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Coward punch victim's mother wants new laws to go further

Jake Brook during his treatment in hospital.
Jake Brook during his treatment in hospital. Trevor Veale

THE mother of Coffs Coast king hit victim Jake Brook wants the NSW Government's one-punch laws to take into account not only the victims who are killed but also those whose lives are ruined.

In the three years since her son was knocked to the ground in an unprovoked attack at Dorrigo, Liz Brook has learned there are "worse things than death".

The boy who was once an aspiring diesel mechanic with a bright future, now requires 24 hour care and has the understanding capacity of a three-year-old.

Ms Brook has watched closely the public campaign fuelled by the deaths of high profile king hit victims Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie.

When Premier Barry O'Farrell unveiled sweeping reforms this week, Ms Brook was relieved to see something finally being done but she worries the wording of the legislation may hinder the quest for justice for victims like Jake.

Under the changes, deadly coward punches will attract a minimum eight-year jail sentence and minimum penalties for all alcohol fuelled assaults will be increased by two years.

Ms Brook wants coward punches which leave victims with permanent brain damage, to be treated as manslaughter.

"There has to be some justice for the victims and their families who lives are destroyed by one person's actions," Ms Brook said

"Just because they technically survived the attack, doesn't mean they are actually living."

Along with changes to sentencing laws, a raft of heavy restrictions including earlier lock outs and closing times will be placed on popular night spots at Kings Cross and the CBD.

Mr O'Farrell has confirmed the legislation will open the door for tougher restrictions on other troubled party precincts including Coffs Harbour where drunken violence reached its peak last year.

Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser said like locals, he had been "horrified" by in the increase of violence on the streets and a while there was no simple cure for the problem, the message had been heard "loud and clear".

"A strong consistent message is required that alcohol and drug-fuelled violence will not be tolerated," Mr Fraser said

"It's incumbent upon all of us to play our part if we are to stamp out this unacceptable behaviour and change the culture that surrounds it."

PROPOSED REFORMS

  • Eight year mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted under new one punch laws where the offender is intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol, plus new mandatory minimum sentences for violent assaults where intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol;
  • Introduction of 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks across an expanded CBD precinct to include Kings Cross to Darling Harbour, The Rocks to Haymarket and Darlinghurst;
  • New state-wide 10pm closing time for all bottle shops and liquor stores;
  • Increasing the maximum sentence to 25 years for the illegal supply and possession of steroids - up from two years;
  • Increased on-the-spot fines to $1,100 for continued intoxicated and disorderly behaviour disobeying a police move-on order - an increase of more than five times;
  • Community awareness and media campaign to address the culture of binge drinking and the associated drug and alcohol related violence;
  • Free buses running every ten minutes from Kings Cross to the CBD to connect with existing NightRide services on Friday and Saturday nights;
  • Remove voluntary intoxication by drugs or alcohol as a mitigating factor when courts determine sentences;
  • Increasing maximum penalties by two years where drugs and/or alcohol are aggravating factors for violent crimes including assault causing grievous bodily harm, reckless bodily harm, assault against police, affray and sexual assault;
  • Enabling Police to impose an immediate CBD precinct ban of up to 48 hours for trouble-makers;
  • Introduction of a periodic risk-based licencing scheme with higher fees imposed for venues and outlets that have later trading hours, poor compliance histories or are in high risk locations;
  • A precinct-wide freeze on liquor licences for new pubs and clubs will be introduced.

Topics:  andrew fraser, assault, barry o'farrell, brain damage, coward punch, dorrigo



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