The family of Patrick Cronin outside the Court of Appeal: Parents Robyn and Matt Cronin, brother Lucas and sister Emma. Picture: David Caird
The family of Patrick Cronin outside the Court of Appeal: Parents Robyn and Matt Cronin, brother Lucas and sister Emma. Picture: David Caird

Family’s call to reform ‘inadequate’ one-punch laws

THE family of Patrick Cronin has urged the state government to immediately address inadequate coward punch sentencing laws.

Speaking at the official launch of the Pat Cronin Foundation today his dad, Matt, called on Attorney-General Martin Pakula to take swift action.

Patrick Cronin. Picture: Supplied
Patrick Cronin. Picture: Supplied

He plans to this week present the minister with a petition signed by more than 10,000 people, calling for reform.

It is understood the government is awaiting the completion of the court process of the man accused of killing surgeon Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann with a single punch.

Pat Cronin’s killer, Andrew William Lee.
Pat Cronin’s killer, Andrew William Lee.

But Mr Cronin said that wasn't good enough.

"Mr Pakula's response to wait on yet another case to be finalised in the courts is not good enough - as we say, there is no excuse not to act now," he said.

Surgeon Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann.
Surgeon Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann.

"If we continue to wait, sadly there will always be another case to delay action. The time for action for the Andrews Government is now to show Victoria they want to do something about this scourge on our society that is the coward punch.

"The scales of justice have been tilted too far towards offenders and it is time to put victims first."

Laws introduced in 2014 to clamp down on one-punch attacks have yet to be used. They promised mandatory minimum 10 year jail terms for one-punch killers.

The family of Patrick Cronin outside the Court of Appeal: Parents Robyn and Matt Cronin and sister Emma. Picture: David Caird
The family of Patrick Cronin outside the Court of Appeal: Parents Robyn and Matt Cronin and sister Emma. Picture: David Caird

The Cronins had expected Pat's killer, Andrew William Lee, to be prosecuted under the laws, and prosecutors had filed a notice of intention to seek the tough mandatory term.

But they later withdrew the notice in a plea deal in exchange for Lee's guilty plea to a charge of manslaughter.

It was a move that left the Cronins shattered.

Sentencing Lee to eight years' imprisonment with a five year non parole period, Justice Lex Lasry said it was the right decision, finding the ambiguous legislation could never have been applied in the case.

"We have spoken previously about how the law has failed us and therefore failed Pat with the clearly flawed coward punch sentencing laws," Mr Cronin said.

"We understand that the Public Prosecutor's job is to prosecute the law and we understand that the job of the judge is to administer the law.

"If we accept that both the prosecution and the judge did their jobs then where we've failed is with the law itself," he said.

Patrick Cronin’s family: Parents Robyn and Matt Cronin, brother Lucas and sister Emma. Picture: David Caird
Patrick Cronin’s family: Parents Robyn and Matt Cronin, brother Lucas and sister Emma. Picture: David Caird

Dozens of family and friends gathered at La Trobe University today for Pat Cronin Foundation launch.

Ambasaddor Matthew Richardson said awareness and education were key to ending coward punch violence.

"I've seen it happen many a time ... you see these types of situations developing ... its almost been accepted, the culture of that sort of thing," Richardson said.

"You actually sit back and think hey, something devastating can occur ... violence is not acceptable. We know how catastrophic the result can be," he said.

Pat had been studying Health Science at La Trobe and dreamt of becoming a physiotherapist.

Vice-Chancellor John Dewar said the university would work with the foundation conducting research into unprovoked violence.

"We're committed to working with the foundation to research better and understand why this is happening and what could be done to prevent future deaths," Mr Dewar said.

For more information about the foundation visit: https://www.patcroninfoundation.org.au.

shannon.deery@news.com.au



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