Review of one-punch attacks expected after campaign by bereaved MP

A review of one-punch attacks is expected to be conducted by the Government following lengthy campaigning by a Conservative MP whose father was killed by a single blow when she was 13.

Dehenna Davison described her late father as a “brilliant dad” as she called for tougher sentencing for perpetrators of one-punch homicides.

Ms Davison has previously told Parliament that her father’s attacker was released from prison after 18 months.

During the debate on the Criminal Justice Bill, she told the Commons: “Dominic Davison was a 35-year-old, self-employed stone mason, brilliant dad, a brilliant family man, and a great friend to all who knew him.

“On a Friday night in 2007, he went to the pub with his friends and he never came home.

“He’d regrettably been involved in an altercation that resulted in him receiving one fatal blow to the head. A blow so significant that he was dead before he even hit the ground.

“And that is why since then I’ve dedicated much of my campaigning time to try to prevent any further families from having to go through the horror and shock that my own family had to go through.”

Dehenna Davison Dehenna Davison

Justice minister Laura Farris paid tribute to Dehenna Davison, pictured, for her campaigning on one-punch manslaughter (Aaron Chown/PA)

The MP for Bishop Auckland added: “The question we have to ask ourselves in this House is what is the price of a life? What is the price of losing your loved one?

“Now, I can safely say from experience that no sentence would ever be enough to make up for the tragedy, the trauma and the anguish that individuals who’ve lost loved ones to this face.

“But four years is not justice, four years is nothing short of insulting.

“And that’s why I sought to bring forward new clause nine to improve sentencing, not just for a sense of justice for those families who are specifically impacted by these horrific crimes, but also to bring forward improvement to faith in our wider criminal justice system, which we know is facing difficulties with members of the public.”

Ms Davison continued: “I don’t intend to push my amendment forward for a vote today, and that is because of my gratefulness to the Government – they have come forward with a wonderful package of measures which we do believe will make a brilliant, tangible impact for the families impacted by these horrendous tragedies.

“For example, we have been offered a full review of low-culpability homicide to take into account not just single punches but any single blow and any other such crimes, to look at whether sentencing review is needed.

“Of course, I would say to the minister we would like that review to get started as quickly as possible, and I know that she recognises the urgency with which we’ve been campaigning on this matter.

“But myself, and One Punch UK do look forward to working with her, and with the victims’ commissioner also, to get that review under way.

“And I will be on their backs, making sure that it is a strong review with strong recommendations, and will be pushing for the Government to accept those recommendations at the end of it.”

Ms Davison said she was pleased the Government had appointed a “single point of contact specialising in one-punch assaults” for victims’ families, as she had called for.

She added that this person would be a “hand-holding guide right from day one through to the trial and beyond”.

Prior to this, justice minister Laura Farris paid tribute to Ms Davison for her campaigning on one-punch manslaughter.

She said: “This was not an ordinary campaign for her, it was one born out of the deep tragedy of her childhood. I know that she is going to speak on it, and I’m going to respond in detail when she has done so.

“But I hope she won’t mind me saying that her dad would feel very proud of the way she has conducted herself on this issue, and he’d be pleased with the changes we are making.”

Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck supported Ms Davison’s amendment, stating that it would “put an end to lenient sentences and hopefully act as a deterrent, so people do think and walk away before they use their fists”.

The South Shields MP added: “Whilst it is generally accepted there is a concerning rise in one-punch attacks across the UK, no official figures exist in relation to the lives lost and the lives devastated by a single punch.

“What we do know is that almost every time a precious life is taken in this way, it is reported that the perpetrator was intoxicated and their sentence for taking the life of another is almost always extremely lenient.

“The average sentence being four years, some walking away after just four months in prison, that’s four moths for taking somebody else’s life.”

Concluding the debate, Ms Farris said: “We have worked together with the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for homicide Kate Meynell, to appoint a named lead for one-punch homicides.

“This person is going to carry out an initial scoping exercise to properly establish how many of these cases are occurring and understand if there are barriers to investigation and prosecution for these offences.”

She added: “We are going to establish a lower-culpability manslaughter homicide service practice review led by Victim Support which delivers the homicide service, and this will consider cases of manslaughter where there (is) lower culpability.”

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