Lawyer dubious of new one-punch laws

A NOWRA solicitor who specialises in criminal law has questioned the O’Farrell government’s proposed new one-punch laws.

Brett Ford of Douglas and Ford Criminal Law said it appeared the government was making laws off the cuff that would interfere with the judicial process.

“The government is trying to address the coward punch problem – I’m not sure it’s the best way to make policy,” he said.

“They have reacted to recent events which are obviously tragic, particularly for the victims and families.

“These sorts of offences can occur over a broad range of circumstances.

“But, like everyone else, I haven’t actually seen the legislation. We will have to see how it goes.

“As far as I was aware there is no mandatory sentencing in NSW but having heard the Premier that is his intention.

“It’s been reported if you do one punch, are alcohol affected and kill someone you will get eight years minimum.

“Do you get less if you punch someone 10 times, kick them or hit them with a baseball bat?

“Obviously, the issue is alcohol-related violence and these types of assaults.

“There are ample offences and judicial sentence scope already to cover this.

“The government is saying the minimum sentence is X for this offence.

“The difficulty is there are always different circumstances surrounding events – more serious offences that fall outside those criteria may get a lesser sentence.

“And that doesn’t make sense.

“It will be interesting to see what the bill actually says.”

Mr Ford said the proposed legislation impacted on the separation of power.

“That is the reason there is a separation between the executive [the government] and the judiciary [the courts] so they can’t tell each other what to do,” he said.

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