Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Kiwis facing life in Australian prison following fatal attack

Cole Miller, 18, was assaulted in a Brisbane mall early yesterday. He was taken to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital where he died this afternoon. Photo / Facebook
Cole Miller, 18, was assaulted in a Brisbane mall early yesterday. He was taken to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital where he died this afternoon. Photo / Facebook

A New Zealand man charged over a fatal assault on a Brisbane teenager at the weekend allegedly asked his mates "do you want to see something funny?" before he delivered the killer punch.

Police allege Daniel Jermaine Lee Maxwell made the "callous" boast to co-accused Armstrong Renata, also a New Zealander living in Australia, before fatally striking Cole Miller, 18, on Sunday morning.

Mr Miller was instantly knocked out by the force of the blow. He suffered massive brain trauma and he died on Monday after his family made the decision to turn off his life support.

Maxwell and Renata, both 21 and from Auckland, were initially charged with grievous bodily harm when the appeared in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court on Monday.

However yesterday they appeared for a second time after police upgraded the charge to unlawfully striking causing death.

Both men hit Mr Miller and have been jointly charged though it appears police allege the fatal hit came from Maxwell.

The new charge was introduced in 2014 as part of Queensland's Safe Night Out legislation which aimed to tackle alcohol and drug-related violence.

Strategies included tougher penalties to "make it clear bad behaviour won't be tolerated".
Maxwell and Renata face life in prison if convicted.

The Gold Coast Bulletin revealed yesterday that Renata recently joked on social media about violence.

He said his dream job would be a prison guard getting paid to "beat up junkies".

The Courier Mail reported that Maxwell moved from Melbourne to Tanah Merah, an outer suburb of Brisbane, three months ago and was living with his uncle and cousin. His parents still live in Auckland.

According to Renata's Facebook page, which has been deactivated in the last few hours after a barrage of angry messages from Mr Miller's friends, he is also from Auckland and attended Manurewa High School.

Facebook image of Armstrong Renata from Coombabah who has been charged over the one punch death of Cole Miller.
Facebook image of Armstrong Renata from Coombabah who has been charged over the one punch death of Cole Miller.

At Maxwell's first court appearance his lawyer Tim Clements detailed the allegations against his client.

Maxwell was alleged to have approached Mr Miller and his friend and asked "if they wanted to fight".

"He is alleged to have thrown a punch at each of them", Mr Clements said.
After Renata's second appearance yesterday his lawyer Mitch Cunningham described his client as being "very distressed".

"He's very stressed, very anxious, he's never been in custody before and the watch house is pretty tough place," he told media including ABC News.

"It's a very pretty serious charge, it carries a life imprisonment with at least 80 per cent to be served. I think it's safe to say it's a tragedy for all involved."

Photographs on Renata's Facebook page, shared across the internet by Mr Miller's devastated friends include one of his arm tattoo which reads: "Sometimes you have to forget what's gone, appreciate what still remains and look forward look forward to what's coming next".

Who are the alleged Kiwi killers?

Maxwell had moved from Melbourne to Tanah Merah, an outer suburb of Brisbane, three months ago and was living with his uncle and cousin. It is understood his parents still live in Auckland.

According to Renata's Facebook page, which has been deactivated in the last few hours after a barrage of angry messages from Mr Miller's friends, he is also from Auckland and attended Manurewa High School.

The pair first appeared in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court yesterday and Maxwell's legal aid lawyer Tim Clements detailed the allegations against his client.

He said Maxwell was alleged to have approached Mr Miller and his friend and asked "if they wanted to fight".

"He is alleged to have thrown a punch at each of them", Mr Clements said.

The Courier Mail reported that police had not yet revealed who threw the fatal punch - Maxwell or Renata.

"It's alleged his co-accused has come from behind or the side and that is the punch which has led to (Mr Miller) falling to the ground," Mr Clements told the court.
Both men are due back in court on February 8.

Outside court Renata's lawyer Mitch Cunningham described his client as being "very distressed".

"He's very stressed, very anxious, he's never been in custody before and the watch house is pretty tough place," he told media including ABC News.

"It's a very pretty serious charge, it carries a life imprisonment with at least 80 per cent to be served. I think it's safe to say it's a tragedy for all involved."

Family pay tribute to slain teen

Hours after his son died Mr Miller's father Steven Miller told reporters that the teen suffered "massive brain trauma" and was surrounded by loved ones when life support was switched off.

"He struggled bravely in the intensive care unit... and our family and many close friends have been by his side since the incident," News.com.au reported.

"Cole was a beautiful, brave young man with his whole life yet to be lived. The whole Miller family would like to thank his school friends from Brisbane State High and the water polo community, and the many, many others who have sent messages of love and hope."

Mr Miller was a talented young athlete and had represented Queensland in under-20s water polo. He is the younger brother of Australian water polo player and Olympian Billy Miller.

"This is a random act of violence - there is no indication that the victim knew who the offenders were," he said but did not rule out that the two may have crossed paths in a nightclub earlier in the night," said Detective Acting Inspector Tom Armitt.

- NZ Herald

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