Northland MP Matt King is "hugely disappointed" his coward's punch bill – which would have resulted in tougher penalties for serious assaults causing death - has been voted down in Parliament.

The Crimes (Coward Punch Causing Death) Amendment Bill would have created a new offence for the crime of throwing a "king hit" or "coward's punch" at unsuspecting victims who later die from their injuries.

The new charge was to provide an alternative to manslaughter and came with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

On June 17, the Bill was voted down by 63 votes from Labour, NZ First and the Green Party during its first reading in Parliament.

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"I'm hugely disappointed ... they didn't give it a chance, they didn't even allow it to go to select committee for improvements," King said.

"Passing this bill would have sent a clear message to offenders that thuggish and violent behaviour won't be tolerated. By voting down this legislation, the Government is cementing its soft on crime attitude.

"If you commit a crime you should pay the consequences, especially if it results in a death."

The bill was drafted after a number of coward punch incidents King has seen and dealt with during his time as a former police officer and, for the past three years as MP for Northland.

Northland MP Matt King (right) and colleague Mark Mitchell (left) accept the coward's punch petition with more than 14,000 signatures from Troy Elliott at Parliament in 2018. Photo / File
Northland MP Matt King (right) and colleague Mark Mitchell (left) accept the coward's punch petition with more than 14,000 signatures from Troy Elliott at Parliament in 2018. Photo / File

These include a road rage incident in Kaikohe in 2018 resulting in the death of local man Chris Vujcich.

Twenty-two year old Patrick Tarawa was sentenced to 10 months' home detention and 400 hours' community work for punching Vujcich in the head, causing him to fall backwards onto a concrete footpath. He died in hospital the next day.

King also administered first aid to 38-year-old Derek Tanner who was enjoying a night out at a Far North vineyard when he was punched from behind with no warning in 2017.

There was also an assault at the Homestead Tavern in Kerikeri, where a 60-year-old man was punched in the head by a man bigger than him about 17 years ago. As the victim fell, his head struck a bar leaner and he never got up.

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King was a police officer at the time and was involved in the case.

His bill had a chance of becoming law after it was drawn from the ballot at Parliament on September 6.

Matt King's Crimes (Coward Punch Causing Death) Amendment Bill was voted down in Parliament during its first reading. Photo / File
Matt King's Crimes (Coward Punch Causing Death) Amendment Bill was voted down in Parliament during its first reading. Photo / File

Hansard records show Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri said Labour could not support the bill because "we believe we have the legislation, [and] we have judges to make the call in these serious, king-hit assaults".

King planned to start a "One Punch Can Kill" campaign to bring attention to the offence and the potential 20-year penalty.

He had the backing of boxing champion Joseph Parker and his trainer Kevin Barry who both said they thought the campaign was a good idea.

"One punch" laws were introduced in New South Wales, Australia, in 2014 to reduce alcohol-related violence.

Those convicted of fatal one-punch assaults while under the influence of drugs or alcohol face minimum eight-year sentences.

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