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One-punch laws welcomed by Echuca residents

Veteran Echuca police officer Sergeant Mick Carroll and Echuca’s Steve Huntley, have welcomed changes to one-punch attack laws.

TRENT HORNEMAN August 20, 2014 3:01am

Just one drunk or drug addled idiot could tear apart all the hard work on civic safety in Echuca-Moama — with just one punch.

Because that is the cowardly attack feared most by veteran Echuca police officer Sergeant Mick Carroll and Echuca’s Steve Huntley, the men who launched their STOP campaign with its slogan ‘one punch can kill’ in response to violence around the state.

And they are standing behind a Victorian Government decision to beef up punishments for fatal one-punch attacks.

The minimum non-parole period has now been raised to 10 years for one-punch deaths and deadly gang attacks.

Sen. Sgt Carroll said while he could not remember a one-punch death in the region, it was more through good luck than good management.

He described one-punch assaults as a ‘nasty crime’ which had the potential for incredible devastation and no matter what laws were in place the combination of late nights and alcohol would always lead to problems.

In the past Echuca police have labelled the streets of Echuca violent, with an influx of alcohol-fuelled people in the town’s central business district late at night.

Police have ramped up patrols and even established exclusion zones in recent years to try and stem intoxication on the streets.

Sen. Sgt Caroll said while hotels were doing their part to responsibly serve alcohol, drugs and people drinking at private venues was adding to the problem.

He said pre-loading, where boozed-up people drink at home before hitting the streets and city venues, is a real problem for the venues and police,’’ he said.

‘‘People using drugs is also a concern, as their level of irrationality rises.’’

SES volunteer Mr Huntley, who helped launch the STOP campaign in February said the tougher penalties would help to force people consider their actions.

Mr Huntley said the Echuca-Moama community had rallied behind the public campaign, particularly late night venue operators.

The campaign came on the back of helping find Colac man Tim Gaylard, a one-punch victim who drowned while on holiday in Echuca-Moama in February.

Mr Huntley said hotel owners, sports clubs, businesses and Echuca-Moama residents supporting the campaign was filtering through to the wider community.

‘‘The success of the campaign is hard to measure, because you will never hear about the people who haven’t been assaulted,’’ he said.

‘‘You only have to look back to the Winter Blues weekend, 15,000 to 20,000 people in town and there was only one incident for the whole weekend.’’

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