Australia 'one-punch' laws announced in New South Wales

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File photo: NSW Premier Barry O'FarrellImage source, AFP
Image caption,
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said he was 'horrified' by the alcohol-fuelled attacks in Sydney

New laws are to be introduced in Australia's New South Wales (NSW), toughening sentences against drunken violence including one-punch assaults.

The measures include minimum eight-year sentences for fatal one-punch assaults influenced by drugs or alcohol.

Liquor shops will close earlier and premises in parts of Sydney will have to stop serving drinks by 03:00.

The move comes after the death of an 18-year-old who was attacked in Sydney.

Campaigners called for measures tackling alcohol-fuelled violence after Daniel Christie died after being punched in Sydney's King's Cross area on New Year's Eve.

Another 18-year-old, Thomas Kelly, died after being punched in 2012.

'Coward punches'

Single-punch attacks have been described colloquially as "king hits". However, campaigners and families of victims have called for them to be referred to as "coward punches" instead.

In a statement, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said: "I have been horrified by the continued drug and alcohol-fuelled attacks on city streets and the increase in violence used in these attacks."

"The idea that it's OK to go out, get intoxicated, start a fight or throw a coward's punch is completely unacceptable."

"I expect opposition to some or all of the measures," he said. "These new measures are tough and for that I make no apologies."

The measures also include lockouts in parts of Sydney's central business district, where people will be prevented from entering venues after 01:30, and the introduction of a state-wide 10pm closing time for liquor stores.

Similar lockout laws are in place in NSW's Newcastle area, and South Australia.

Supporters say the laws have been successful in reducing alcohol-related violence, but some venue owners say the measures have hurt businesses and that other measures, such as increased policing, are more effective.

Thomas Kelly's parents said they welcomed the measures, which had gone "way above what we were asking for".

"It's bittersweet to know that the reform will come in shortly but it's also still terrible for us as a family," they said.

Thomas Kelly's attacker, Kieran Loveridge, was given a minimum four year sentence in November. Campaigners described the sentence as too lenient.