Tony Abbott ‘appalled’ by spate of ‘coward punches’, calls for tough penalties

Tony Abbott ‘appalled’ by spate of ‘coward punches’, calls for tough penalties

ABC News

Daniel Christie, who was king hit on New Year's Eve in Sydney

PHOTO: The latest victim of an attack in Kings Cross is Daniel Christie, 18 (Supplied)

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is appalled by recent incidents of alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney and wants perpetrators to feel the full force of the law.

Daniel Christie, 18, is the latest victim of an attack in Sydney’s notorious nightclub district of Kings Cross.

He has been in a critical condition in hospital since he was attacked on New Year’s Eve – an assault his family termed a “coward punch”.

Earlier in 2012, 18-year-old Thomas Kelly died when he was punched in an unprovoked attack in almost the same spot as Mr Christie.

Pressure is mounting on the New South Wales Government to crack down on alcohol-related violence.

Mr Abbott has told Macquarie Radio the attacks are “utterly cowardly”.

“I am appalled by what seems to be happening in certain trouble spots here in this great city of ours,” he said.

“I think we’ve got essentially two problems. The first problem is the binge-drinking culture that seems to have become quite prevalent amongst youngsters in the last couple of decades.

“The second problem, and this is a truly insidious thing – this rise of the disturbed individual who goes out not looking for a fight, but looking for a victim.

“And all of these king hits – or we’re now calling them ‘coward punches’ – all these acts of gratuitous violence are unprovoked.”

Mr Abbott describes the perpetrators as “brutal people” who pick on innocents.

“This is a vicious, horrible change,” he said.

“I think really, the police, the courts, the judges ought to absolutely throw the book at people who perpetrate this kind of gratuitous unprovoked violence.”

In the wake of the attack on Mr Christie, the family of Mr Kelly have stepped up their campaign for law reform.

More than 23,000 people have signed the Kelly’s petition for tougher minimum sentences for manslaughter.

Ralph and Kathy Kelly have expanded the petition to include a call for courts to consider drunkenness as an aggravating factor in crimes, not an excuse.

It is part of a broader campaign by the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, which is calling for stronger liquor licensing laws, education campaigns and cultural change.

Late last year, Keiran Loveridge was sentenced to four years jail for killing Mr Kelly.

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