Lawyer questions new "king hit" laws

COWARDS who fatally "king hit" their victims under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be sent to jail for at least eight years according to new state laws, but a local solicitor is worried judges could have their hands tied.

Premier Barry O'Farrell introduced mandatory sentencing yesterday after sustained calls from the public for harsher penalties.

The premier also unveiled new laws which require bottle shops across NSW to close by 10pm and the maximum penalty for serious assault increased by two years with mandatory minimum sentences.

"The new measures are tough and I make no apologies for that," Barry O'Farrell said. "What's been happening on Sydney CBD streets and in other parts of the state demands strong action."

The Area News recently reported pleas for harsher sentencing from friends of Andrew Farrugia the 17-year-old Griffith teen who was fatally struck by a king-hit in 2007 who said tougher sentencing was long overdue.

Under the new laws, minimum and maximum sentences apply to one-punch killers. Also, judges will be required to dole out sentences of between eight and 25 years to perpetrators under the influence of drugs or alcohol and offenders who were not would receive a maximum of 20 years non-parole.

Local criminal solicitor Olivia Harris was dismayed judges will have far less discretion in determining appropriate sentences in these cases.

"In my opinion people rarely think about the consequences of their actions when they're in the throws of crimes, specifically one-punch deaths that are usually caused by young men fuelled by alcohol," Ms Harris said.

"You couldn't expect those offenders, whose tempers end up killing people, to be thinking of mandatory sentences."

Ms Harris explained while there existed mandatory periods for disqualification attached to driving offences and standard non-parole periods in the sentencing act, judges had always retained a fair amount of discretion.

"One of the most important aspects of the judicial system is judges have discretion to consider all the circumstances when making decisions," she said.

"Mandatory sentencing only fetters judges' capacity to take everything in to account and I would have thought most people would agree all of the circumstances about offenders and victims should be taken into account."

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