Govt opposes sending strong message to thugs

A Members’ Bill that would create a new offence to apply to people who throw ‘coward punches’ has been voted down by the Government, MP for Northland Matt King says.

“The Crimes (Coward Punch Causing Death) Amendment Bill would create a new offence of Assault Causing Death and would apply to those who throw cowardly punches at unsuspecting victims who later die from their injuries. It would provide an alternative to manslaughter and would’ve had a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

“Passing this Bill would’ve sent a clear message to offenders that thuggish and violent behaviour won’t be tolerated. By voting down this legislation, the Government is cementing its soft on crime attitude.

“This Bill was drafted following the death of Chris Vujcich. Patrick Tarawa was sentenced to 10 months home detention following a road rage incident where he threw a fatal punch, resulting in the death of Chris Vujcich.

“Around the same time, Nathan Kraatskow was killed in a hit and run, and his killer also received home detention.

“While we are wary of criticising the judiciary, it’s clear the Government’s soft on crime message is filtering down.

“If you commit a crime you should pay the consequences, especially if it results in a death.

“When you’ve got a Government that’s focused on having fewer people in prison without a plan to reduce crime, you’re going to end up with softer sentences and more people whose punishments don’t fit their crimes. You’ll also end up with more victims.

“Unlike Labour, the Greens and NZ First, National will always be on the side of victims. It’s disappointing they have once again put the rights of criminals first.”