Critical analysis of the law surrounding "one punch" killings

  • Craig Burgess

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis investigates the modern day tragedy of needless loss of life through so-called ‘one punch’ killings. Research has identified more than 90 deaths attributed to so-called ‘one punch’ assaults in Australia between 2000 and 2012. This thesis takes a critical examination of recent legislative moves in Australia and in some overseas jurisdictions that tighten the liability of offenders and the trend of concentrating on the consequences of the crime rather than looking towards the criminality of the offender. It also examines the efficacy of introducing new offences that abolish the test of foresight regarding the outcome of a fatal assault, in order to deal with the problem of mainly alcohol-fuelled violence. The thesis then considers whether there is a justifiable reason to amend the law and whether or not the range of existing offences which already carry high maxima, more fairly and justly labels the crime for the benefit of the offender, the victim and the community. While acknowledging the problem of random fatal violence needs to be addressed, the thesis argues penal populism such as tightening criminal liability and imposing longer sentences is not the answer. The preferred approach for this complex and multi-factorial problem is to concentrate on crime prevention through educational programs alerting young people to the dangers of personal violence as well as restricting alcohol trading hours in known trouble spots.
Date of Award8 Oct 2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGeraldine Mackenzie (Supervisor) & Kenneth Levy (Supervisor)

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