Petition For One Punch Assaults To Be Treated As Murder Hits Almost 25,000 Signatures
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A petition demanding that one punch killings be treated as murder has reached 24,000 signatures.
People are campaigning for a change to the law following the death of Dean Skillin, who was attacked while on a night out in 2020.
His family have now launched a petition to ask Parliament to bring about more severe punishments for such crimes.
The petition reads: "I want them to change the law with one punch crimes .making it murder when you hit someone from behind for no reason.
"My nephew Dean Skillin was punched from behind on a night out with friends. He was hit that hard he was Dead before he hit the floor. The man who hit him was a skilled fighter.
"I want the Government to make minimum and maximum sentences for assaults where a single punch leads to death equal to those for murder.
"One punch can kill, and where it does offenders should face penalties equivalent to those for murder."
Since the petition was set up, it has received 24,526 signatures.
Responding to the campaign, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said the law already allows for life sentences for manslaughter convictions.
It said: "Manslaughter has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. It is important that judges are able to sentence appropriately according to all the factors in each case.
"Ministers are extremely sorry to hear of the tragic death of Mr Skillin and extend their deepest condolences to his family and friends.
"One punch manslaughter refers to cases where an offender hits a victim once, but this is sufficient to cause the death of the victim. Where these instances occur without intent to kill, they are often prosecuted as manslaughter – specifically unlawful act manslaughter.
"Manslaughter is an extremely serious crime and as such it carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment though a life sentence is not mandatory.
"Judges have the discretion to award a life sentence if the circumstances of the case are thought to be sufficiently serious.
"However, the court is also able to impose a range of other sentences depending on the circumstances of the case.
"The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is currently before Parliament, is making important amendments to the sentencing framework.
"It will alter how the custodial period for discretionary life sentences are calculated; courts will base the starting point of at least two thirds of the determinate sentence instead of half of such a sentence as at present.
"This means that those serving life sentences for manslaughter will serve longer in prison before they become eligible to be considered for release by the Parole Board, thereby ensuring that the minimum amount of time spent in custody better reflects the severity of the crime.
"The Bill is also ensuring that any offenders convicted of manslaughter who receive a Standard Determinate Sentence (SDS) of between 4–7 years will serve two-thirds of their sentence in custody instead of half."
If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament.