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: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/family-of-thomas-kelly-grateful-for-alcohol-law-reform-20140121-316d7.html
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 change.org/thomaskelly 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 change.org/thomaskelly 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 change.org/thomaskelly and share it with friends and family. Together, we can do this. Thank you.
Ralph and Kathy Kelly