The Premier of NSW - The Hon. Barry O'Farrell  MP: Reform sentencing laws to curb alcohol-fuelled violence

The Premier of NSW - The Hon. Barry O'Farrell MP: Reform sentencing laws to curb alcohol-fuelled violence

    1. Ralph Kelly
    2. Petition by

      Ralph Kelly

      Sydney, NSW 2088, Australia

February 2014


This is just a quick note to make sure you'd seen this great news: last week new one-punch laws passed NSW parliament – introducing an eight-year mandatory jail sentence for those found guilty of killing someone in a drunken "coward punch". It's the first step of a package of laws that will finally start putting a dent in our state's problem of alcohol-fuelled violence – and we can't thank you enough for helping us win this change through signing our petition. In the coming weeks we'll keep a close eye on whether the rest of the laws pass, and whether Labor supports them. But for now, we wanted to say thank you. It finally feels like we are on the road towards justice for all those victims of this violence. We'd also like to invite you to join our Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation. That's where we'll continue to post updates, find us on Facebook here:

UPDATE: A huge announcement from Premier O'Farrell this week means we're finally going to see strong action against alcohol-fuelled violence -- including stronger penalties and minimum sentences for those who commit violence while drunk. 

Thank you for helping get us there. Now it's time for the parliament to pass the legislation.

Read more on the announcement here:


We’d prepared ourselves for this kind of news, but it still came as a shock.

On New Year’s Eve, in almost exactly the same spot in King’s Cross where our beloved son Tom was killed, another young man had fallen victim to the rage of alcohol-fueled violence.

A single punch. Another young man fighting for his life. Another family distraught and torn apart. When is this going to end?

Our hearts go out to the family of young Daniel Christie. No-one outside the family can really understand the pain they are going through right now.

Police allege that Daniel’s attacker had drunk eight beers and a glass of wine beforehand and that he was already on a good behaviour bond for assault.

Because someone has been charged, we can’t comment more on this particular case right now. But we know that something has to change. Too many lives are being taken from us. The toll is mounting, and the Government is far too slow to act.  

Just a few days after Kieran Loveridge was sentenced to a miserly four years jail for killing Tom, we started a petition at calling for minimum sentencing laws in cases of manslaughter.

More than 23,000 people have already signed our petition and we’ve had some encouraging signs from the Government.

And while we are still determined to see changes to minimum sentencing laws in cases of manslaughter, it’s clear that more needs to be done to tackle the spiralling issue of alcohol-fuelled violence.

In particular, we need laws that will send a strong message to young people and the community in general that alcohol abuse and excessive drinking should not serve as an excuse for violence. Right now, the law doesn’t do that.

Too often, criminals are using excessive drinking as an excuse for their behaviour.

We need to turn this around 180 degrees. The central plank of our new proposal to the NSW Government is to increase the penalties for any crime committed whilst affected by alcohol or drugs.

Recently, accompanied by leading Sydney lawyer Alexander Street SC, we met with Attorney-General Mr Greg Smith to propose three key areas of reform to the NSW Sentencing Act.

The three additions that we have proposed to the Attorney General - now reflected in our updated petition - are:

1. Any crimes committed whilst affected by alcohol or drugs are identified as a "mandatory aggravating factor" that must be taken into account on sentencing.

This will serve to send the right messaging of the primary role that alcohol plays in violence and crimes within NSW and require sentences to reflect this aggravating feature.

2. The aggravating factor of "conditional liberty" expanded to any "good behaviour bond".

This will tackle the issue of repeat offenders.

3. Youth and the inability of a victim to defend themselves as being aggravating factors that must be taken into account.

This would help stop attacks on the most defenceless and vulnerable in our society.

We have asked the NSW Government to incorporate these three key elements into the Act.   Importantly these additions would be incorporated within all areas of criminal activity, including domestic violence and sexual assault.

Right now, our sentencing laws are completely out of sync with public sentiment.  18 months ago we lost Tom. 3 days ago, another family’s boy was attacked. Until something changes, the only thing we can be sure of is that there will be more.

Social and behavioural change only occurs when we stand up as one and demand that change happens.

Now is that time.

Time to say that we’re fed up with the culture of excessive drinking.

Time to say that we’re fed up with violence on our streets, fuelled by rampant alcohol abuse.

Please sign our petition on and share it with friends and family. Together, we can do this.  Thank you.

Ralph and Kathy Kelly

Recent signatures


    1. NSW Police Association statement of support

      Ralph Kelly
      Petition Organizer


      “It’s clear that the NSW Sentencing Act needs to reform to help send a strong message that alcohol is not an excuse for violence, and it’s now up to the NSW Government to introduce those reforms for the sake of the safety of our community.

      “That is why Police support the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation reforms for sentencing laws to curb alcohol-fuelled violence, as set out in the petition at Police want these tragedies to occur, NEVER AGAIN.”

      Statment from Scott Weber, NSW Police Association President

    2. NSW Police Association statement of support

      Ralph Kelly
      Petition Organizer

      “Every week, families’ lives are devastated as a result of alcohol-fuelled violence. As police officers we know this all too well - we see first-hand the ripple of devastation alcohol-related assaults inflict on our community.

      “As a police officer one of the most painful parts of the job is telling parents that their son or daughter has become the victim of a vicious assault, unfortunately it has become an increasingly common part of the role.

      “The key to reducing the carnage on our streets is stopping the problem at the source; stopping the violence before it occurs. But in the unfortunate instances when a few drinks do get out of hand, we also need to ensure offenders are faced with penalties that fit the crime.

      “Regrettably police officers often see the same familiar faces committing offenses time and again. Making sure that the penalties for committing alcohol-related crimes reflect the devastation they cause and act as a deterrent is critical.


    3. Reached 100,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Chris Hall AUSTRALIA
      • 8 months ago

      I was recently targeted by these goons. I'm lucky only a broken nose and dents to my head, and my 6month old still has a father.

    • lisa purcell AUSTRALIA
      • 9 months ago

      help prevent the senseless loss of life

    • Sue Brown AUSTRALIA
      • 9 months ago

      Our son tom brown has been in Icu for past 11 days in an induced coma after an unprovoked attack.

    • Dianne Evans AUSTRALIA
      • 9 months ago

      Because I also have children

      • 9 months ago

      Beautiful young men should not consider to suffer, on both sides of the punch, because of Australia's continuing obsession with alcohol as a cultural status symbol. It takes a strong male culture to show the generations before it and after it, that drinking responsibly is what real men do.


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