Stop the One Punch Stupidity
Alcohol and Testosterone a Deadly Brew
No matter where you live you have no doubt heard a similiar story. Two groups of men at the pub drinking heavily. One or all get involved in an argument which simmers throughout the night. By accident or design a fight erupts outside the pub/club/hotel either at closing time or when someone leaves to go home. A man takes a heavy punch to the head or face, falls over backwards and fractures the back of their skull on the pavement or gutter. The injuries involved in these incidents often result in brain damage and occasionally death.
In Australia two recent incidents have involved famous sporting identities. It can be argued that to be an elite sportsperson you need the fire in the belly. The mongrel to stand up for what you believe in and never back down. Certainly that sort of attitude goes a long way to explaining how people get involved in such incidents and in the more junior ranks a booze culture exists in many of our sporting clubs and amongst younger drinkers. Many of whom add drug use to the volatile mix. Some use steroids. There are thousands of angry men and increasingly women going out from Wednesday to Sunday night looking for fun, love and if that fails violence.
Lets not forget that one punch crimes ruin the lives of all involved. The victim, the perpetrator and their families. Most of those charged over one punch deaths would say they had no intention to kill or even seriously injure the victim. Perhaps we should get some of these people on television to discuss their errors of judgement and discourage random acts of senseless violence.
Craig Field first played for South Sydney in 1990 aged 17. A talented half back he earned himself a regular starting spot on the team in 1993 and was given the captaincy in 1994. In 1995 he lost the captaincy and was fined $10,000 for missing training. He went to Manly 1996 but incumbent halves Geoff Toovey and Cliff Lyons were in the ascendancy and the ageless Des Hasler, also a fine halfback was playing off the bench at that time. Field struggled to get a run in 1996 but became a regular team member from 1997 after the retirement of Hasler and Lyons. In 1999 Field requested and was given a release from a cash strapped Manly team. He went to the newly merged Wests Tigers. In 2001 Field and fellow Wests Tiger Kevin Mcguiness were suspended for 6 months after testing positive to stimulants. It was the end of his NRL career.
Field went to France and played for the Pia Donkeys in 2002. In 2003 he was appointed coach when former Tiger John Elias was sacked. Craig Field returned to Australia in May 2003 to captain the Newtown Jets in the Premier League competition. In February 2007 Field was managing a hotel in Wagga Wagga and claimed that he was the victim of an armed hold up. Amid allegations that the hold up was staged, Field was charged with making a false statement to police, three counts of stealing and recruiting a child to participate in criminal activity. Field was acquitted of all charges by a Jury on August 11th 2009. Returning to Rugby League Craig Field captain coached the Wagga Hornets in 2008. In 2010 he played two seasons with the Cudgen Hornets in the Northern Rivers Rugby League. He retired at the end of the 2012 season but remained with the team as coach.
On 15th July 2012 Field was drinking at the Kingscliff Beach hotel. Police allege that Field aged 39 and his friend Shaun Fathers aged 41 were involved in an argument with wealthy farmer Kelvin Kane. When the hotel shut at 9.15pm a fight broke out in the carpark and Mr Kane fell to the pavement hitting his head. Field and Fathers were initially charged with assault but the charges were upgraded to murder after life support was switched off on July 16th.
Police Superintendent Stuart WIlkins was quoted in the Daily Telegraph saying:
"There was a confrontation during the afternoon and evening and at the closing of the hotel it moved to the carpark where it took a violent turn.
"They knew each other. It was one significant punch that led this man to fall to the ground and hit his head, which has caused significant injuries."
David Hookes commenced his domestic cricketing career in 1977 scoring 5 centuries in six innings. His outstanding form at the time led to his selection for Australia in the Centenary test in Melbourne in 1977. Hookes Scored 58 in that match hitting 5 consecutive boundaries off the bowling of Tony Greig in the process. Shortly after Hookes signed with the fledgling World Series Cricket. His cricketing career was punctuated by injury, form slumps and his outspoken views created friction with selectors. including a broken jaw which led to Hookes being the first player to use a helmet. In spite of his dissappointments at International level Hookes was devestating at State level in 1981-82 he captained South Australia to win the Sheffield Shield and was re-instated to the national team as a result. He played the Ashes series in Australia and Toured Sri Lanka in 1983 where he scored 143 off 152 balls in the first test. Hookes toured the West Indies in 1984 and was eventually dropped in favour of younger players. He captained South Australia until 1990. The fire was still evident in 1987 when he scored 306 not out against Tasmania.
After retirement Hookes pursued a career in Media and coaching. In 2002 he took on the rains of the Victorian team and led them to the top of the domestic competition. On January 18th 2004 Hookes went to the Beaconsfiel hotel in St Kilda with cricketers from the Victorian and South Australian teams. The group was asked to leave the premises at around midnight. It is uncertain how the fight started but security staff followed the cricketers a short distance from the hotel David Hookes was hit in the head, fell to the pavement hitting his head again and went into cardiac arrest. The following evening Hookes grieving family consented to the life support machines being switched off. Pub bouncer Zdravco Micevic was charged with manslaughter and subsequently acquitted. He claimed that Hookes had hit him first without provocation.
How do we control the violence?
The two cases above are a microcosm of a far deeper problem. The Craig Field incident comes only a week after the death of Thomas Kelly who was killed in a random one punch attack in Kings Cross.
18/7/2012 Update An 18 year old man Kieran Loveridge has been arrested and charged with the murder of Thomas Kelly.
19/7/2012 Update When Loveridge appeared in court today one of his 17 year old friends headbutted a channel nine cameraman causing him to fall to the pavement hitting his head on the pavement. The cameraman Mario Conti was knocked unconscious. The youth was arrested shortly afterwards.
Whilst one punch deaths more prevalent in our major cities the Craig Field incident demonstrates that deaths can occur in quieter locations.
Calls have gone out for a bigger police presence, restriction of liquor licences, harsher penalties and improved transport services to get revellers safely home in the shortest possible time. These are all positive steps but I think a cultural change around our sporting clubs and pubs needs to be put in place as well. Violence has to be made socially unacceptable and life bans should be considered for sports people of all levels involved in off field violence. Extend the bans to gyms as well if need be. During the eighties we largely eliminated foul play from the sportsfield why can we not do the same off the field?
The other crucial question is should these crimes be considered manslaughter or murder?
Do you have your own views on this issue? Please post a comment.