A third of men convicted of one-punch assaults resulting in death have a history of domestic violence against their victims, an analysis of the 2008 law by its architect reveals.
Former attorney-general Jim McGinty says the WA Director of Public Prosecution's willingness to use the one-punch charge against wife-bashers is putting other Australian jurisdictions off copying the legislation.
The charge of unlawful assault occasioning death was introduced in August 2008 to close a loophole that let offenders argue it was not the punch that killed the victim, but the head hitting the ground.
Mr McGinty provided details of 12 completed one-punch convictions demonstrating that the DPP's decision to use the law against Bradley Wayne Jones for killing his wife Saori was not a one-off.
Unlawful assault occasioning death has a 10-year maximum jail term - compared with life for manslaughter and murder - but often leads to terms of less than five years. Steven Zyrucha was given 3½ years jail in December 2009 for unlawful assault resulting in the death of his partner, Angela Taylor.
Like Saori Jones, Ms Taylor had horrific injuries but the DPP felt there was not enough evidence to prove murder or manslaughter because the cause of her death was unclear. She had a chronic lung problem and was on drugs.
Yesterday, Sam Collidge, the father of Ms Taylor's children, accused the DPP of downgrading the original murder count to the easy-to-prove one-punch charge without consulting her family.
"Witnesses weren't called, evidence wasn't used," he said. "Now the floodgates have been opened so other people who beat their partners on a regular basis and then kill them receive a sentence of 3½ years. This is not justice."
Mr McGinty called on DPP Joe McGrath to change his prosecution guidelines to make it harder for his lawyers to accept one-punch pleas in domestic violence cases.Mr McGrath said there was no need to change his prosecution guidelines because his office always charged with the most serious offence available on the evidence.
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