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Survivors ignored by coward punch laws: victim's family


Survivors ignored by coward punch laws: victim's family

The family of a coward punch victim says the new Queensland laws must cover those who survive these attacks, not just those who die.

Sam Ford is still learning to walk and talk again, after a punch lifted him off the ground causing his head to bounce off the road, in Coolangatta in 2009.

"Does someone have to die to get life and why isn't it attempted murder?" asked Mike Ford, Sam's father.

The State Government is proposing a maximum penalty of life in prison for unlawful striking causing death.

"What happens to the survivors? Sam's been working for nearly five years now on a long road to recovery. He's got severe brain damage, cannot walk, cannot talk. The punishment for that crime was two years jail ... the punishment doesn't fit the crime," he said.

"And it's the leftovers isn't it, as we call them, survivors or the damaged. There are a lot of us."

"I still don't understand why if you use a knife or a gun it's murder or attempted murder but if it's your fists, it's, well, a fight."

"Maybe one day there will be proper laws."

'The hardest road of all'
As Sam worked through a two-hour therapy session in Burleigh Heads yesterday, his mother Margaret Ford spoke with tears in her eyes about the need for survivors to be recognised in the new Safe Night Out laws.
"I think that the charges should be higher, I think it should be the same as someone who does die from an injury," she said.

"Sam has got a life sentence."

"I know people die and their families are devastated and they have to live with losing their loved one but people who survive, I think they have the hardest road of all... and it's a lifetime of hard roads for them."
"It's devastating."

"Mike and I have had to give up work to care for our son so we've lost two incomes, we have to survive now on a carer's pension and Sam on a disability pension and it's hard... there's nothing really for the victims who survive."

Sam's attacker, Damien Ford (no relation) of Banora Point was sentenced to six years jail after pleading guilty to assault.

He was released on parole in 2013 after serving two years.

Coward punch law feedback
Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie admits the new strategy in its current form doesn't incorporate survivors of a coward punch.

"The assault provisions in the code would be able to cover those, in my view, what's not covered at the moment is the death," he said.

"If people don't die but they have other impairments forever, that's good feedback and I certainly we'll take that on board."

The new laws will be drafted after a 30-day public consultation period.
The final question in the government's online submission form asks, what other measures do you think would be effective in addressing alcohol and drug-related violence?

References and further information

This article was originally produced by the ABC.


To view the article, visit the ABC website


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