Sunday, April 23, 2023

John MacDonald: Weak coward-punch laws need changing

I’ve always been very weary of how easily things can go pear-shaped when people are tanked-up on booze and other things.

That’s because, when I was a teenager, I spent quite a bit of my time in and around pubs.

Even before I was legal age, I was there because I played in bands. And most weekends I’d be playing somewhere - it could be two nights, or even three nights.

And when you’re in a band playing at a pub, you see everything. The good and the bad.

And I’ll never forget my best mate getting a hiding outside the Empire Tavern in Dunedin one Saturday night and having to call his parents from the hospital to tell them what had happened.

That was about 30 years ago. But nothing seems to have changed. We seem to be just as violent now, as we were then. It’s probably even worse now.

Bus drivers. Supermarket workers. No one’s immune from these thugs. Just like this guy in Christchurch whose life will never be the same after what happened to him.

Picture this: he’s out on the town on a Saturday night, and pretty much finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just after midnight, outside the Rockpool Bar, on Hereford Street.

So a fight breaks out and an 18-year-old guy who’s trolleyed after polishing off a bottle of rum can’t help himself and joins in on the scrap.

He punches one guy in the head six times and security staff from the pub jump in and try to calm him down. The guy who eventually ends up in hospital on life support - Wynton King - also tries to help the security guys calm this idiot down.

Not long after that, this clown makes a beeline for Wynton - who doesn’t see him coming - and punches him on the right side of his face. Wynton falls to the ground and hits his head on the footpath.

At this point, Regan Robson-Khan - the drunk thug - does a runner and tries to pick fights with other people, but eventually the cops catch-up with him.

Meanwhile, back on Hereford Street outside the Rockpool Bar, Wynton King - the victim - is being loaded into an ambulance in a critical condition. He’s taken to hospital and put on life support.

While he’s in a coma, Wynton has a stroke and the doctors tell his family he’ll never be the same again and so they make the awful decision to switch-off life support.

But somehow, Wynton keeps breathing. He doesn’t die. And, eventually - weeks after being taken off life support - he makes a recovery. Of sorts anyway.

But his life will never be the same again. He’s currently living in a care facility - this is six months after the attack on Hereford Street. He’ll never drive again. He’s going through the grief of losing his father all over again because, after the assault, he couldn’t remember that his father had passed away and had to be told that news all over again.

He can speak, but says he finds it difficult to say exactly what he wants to say. For example, if he’s hungry - he can’t tell anyone he’s hungry, and he’s not capable of preparing food himself. So he has to point to his stomach to get the message across.

So think about all that. And then think about the thug who caused all this.

The thug who, right now, is sitting at home doing nine months home detention. He’s not the one who will never drive again. He’s not the one living in a care facility. He’s not the one who will never play rugby again. He’s not the one who can’t tell people when he’s hungry and has to point to his stomach.

It is outrageous that nine-months home detention is the harshest penalty dished out for this crime. Absolutely outrageous.

John MacDonald is the Canterbury Mornings host on Newstalk ZB Christchurch. This article was first published HERE

No comments: