Man jailed over one-punch death
Derek Graham Loo. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

An Albany man was sentenced to two and a half years jail today over the one-punch death of his sister's partner in a drunken altercation.

In sentencing Derek Graham Loo, 37, District Court Chief Judge Peter Martino said people tempted to use a punch to resolve arguments needed to be deterred.

"A single punch can cause dreadful consequences and that is what has happened in the case," he said.

Loo pleaded guilty to unlawful assault causing the death of Mark Anthony Fryer, 39, in Albany in October 2008.

The State dropped its case against Loo in 2010 because medical evidence at the time did not support a reasonable prospect of conviction.

However, a Coronial inquest last year in which a medical expert changed his mind after reviewing further evidence and concluded Mr Fryer's brain injury was caused by trauma and was not spontaneous resulted in the Director of Public Prosecutions recharging Loo.

Loo, through his lawyer Mara Barone, apologised to his victim's family, including his parents and two children, saying few words could express his remorse.

"The knowledge that he has taken away someone's father weighs very heavily on his heart," Ms Barone said.

The court was told Loo, Mr Fryer and other extended family had been at a funeral and had been drinking alcohol excessively.

There had been no issues or animosity between the men when they went to play indoor cricket and to a local pub after the funeral, but an argument developed between Loo and his sister Darlene Loo, Mr Fryer's partner, which resulted in an altercation between the two men.

Ms Barone said in "tragic irony", the incident had been a "watershed moment" for her client because it made him focus on the positives on his life, mainly his three sons, and he had reduced his alcohol consumption to an occasional drink.

She said Loo did not understand his actions and knows he should have walked away.

Mr Fryer, who served in the Army before becoming a silver service waiter, never woke up after being punched and falling to the ground. He was placed on life support but died two days later.

The maximum penalty for this charge, introduced in recent years in the wake of community outrage over "one punch" cases, is 10 years' jail.

Chief Judge Martino acknowledged Loo's remorse and acceptance of responsibility. He said Loo was respected by his peers and was a mentor and role model to his sons and other young Aboriginal men in the community. He accepted Loo was not usually a violent man given his last violent offence before this incident was in 1999.

"That one punch caused a man to lose his life and has caused grief, sadness and loss to members of his family and others who loved him," the judge said.

Loo, who was on bail and appeared via video link from Albany for his sentencing, will be eligible for parole after serving one year and three months behind bars.

The West Australian

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