Violence on the first weekend of alert level one has sparked a call for immediate law change, after two men were king-hit and hospitalised in Auckland.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, two separate king-hit or “coward punch” incidents led to two young men being rushed to hospital – one unconscious for 15 minutes.
That victim is now calling for the Coward Punch Causing Death bill to pushed through with immediate effect, as he struggles with the after effects of his attack.
“I’m not great to be honest. I have been concussed before but never like this, they [the attackers] are probably doing this to other people and are going to kill someone,” the man, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
At around 3am on Sunday morning, the man and a friend were walking down O’Connell St towards Shortland St, in the CBD, when a group of around six men surrounded them.
The group circled the pair, before the victim was king-hit from the side and left unconscious on the concrete, where he remained unresponsive for 15 minutes.
“Obviously I don’t remember any of it, which is almost better to be honest,” he said.
“My mate who saw it happen, and obviously remembers it all, is pretty shaken up – he thought I died.”
The pair were then “kicked and stomped” repeatedly before their attackers fled the scene and emergency services were called.
Police are in the process on obtaining CCTV footage. No arrests have been made.
The victim suffered a severe concussion and major swelling to his jaw, and is due to see a head injury specialist in the coming days.
He said if laws were not passed here to tackle the issue, and soon, “someone will die”.
“I’m pretty lucky, as weird as that sounds to say,” he said.
“I’m still here I guess, and it could’ve been much worse. If there’s people that still think this is funny or are doing it to other people, [one] hundred per cent there needs to be a law change. I want those guys in jail.”
Currently, there is no specific crime related to king-hits.
But National MP Matt King wants that changed and is pushing for his Coward Punch Causing Death bill to be passed as soon as possible.
It is currently going through its first reading of Parliament.
King, a former police officer, has seen and dealt with “several” king-hit incidents in his time both as an officer and an MP.
He is hopeful of his bill progressing, but felt the current Government would likely vote it down.
“This bill was drawn in September 2018, so in theory it should have been dealt with much sooner than this which gives me reason to suspect it won’t go much further,” King said.
“It’s sad. If we were in Government and got this through there could be scope for a real marketing awareness campaign around ‘one punch can kill’, targetted at young males in particular, and we could see real change.
“I expect it [the bill] will get voted down and I’ll be very interested to hear what the excuse will be, and how bad it needs to get until something is actually done.”
In 2014, Australia’s Government of Victoria introduced the Coward’s Punch Manslaughter Law, which carries a mandatory 10-year minimum sentence.
Joseph Esmaili, who killed a respected Australian heart surgeon with a single punch in 2019, was the first person sentenced under the law.
King’s bill carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but no mandatory minimum sentence.