'Coward punch' bill gets backing from boxing champ Joseph Parker

Long Lunch 13/09/2018
Photo: Photosport.

A National MP wants to toughen up criminal charges for coward punches resulting in death.

Northland MP Matt King has even got backing from boxing champion Joseph Parker, just a week after the Amendment Bill was drawn from the ballot.

Under current legislation, an accidental death caused by a coward punch is considered manslaughter.

But juries are far too reluctant to give out a manslaughter charge, says Mr King, even when death occurs. Mr King’s amendment Bill would allow coward punchers to be charged with up to 20 years in prison.

Matt King wants to see tougher charges for coward punchers.

“I’m hoping we will get more convictions for it,” Mr King told RadioLIVE.

The new charge would offer an alternative to defence lawyers who wanted to plea-bargain to avoid trial, being placed between wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (a 14 year-sentence) and manslaughter (life-sentence).

Mr King hopes to soon launch a "one punch can kill" campaign with Mr Parker to help spread the word to schools and the larger public.

The boxing champion’s promoter David Higgins (from Duco Events) told Stuff that the Bill “sounds like a worthy campaign”.

"It's very true, one punch can kill and you shouldn't be punching people other than in self defence," Higgins told Stuff.

Coward punches, otherwise known as king-hits, are even worse across the Tasman. A 2012 study found 91 Australians had been killed in surprise one-hit punches since 2000, the vast majority happening outside bars in the early hours of the morning.

Green Party justice spokeswoman Golriz Ghahraman opposes the Bill, remarking that National is just trying to look tough.

Mr King says his entire caucus supports the Bill, and hopes to change the tide in his favour with the support of New Zealand First. 

Listen to the full interview with Matt King above.

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