ONE PUNCH, MANY TRAGEDIES – Wednesday January 2 2013

– One morning 5 1/2 years ago, Bill and Cheryl McCormack sat in a room at Victoria Police headquarters and tearfully pleaded for an end to the epidemic of senseless violence on Melbourne’s streets.

Their son Shannon – a popular and gentle 22-year-old with a mop of curls – had been felled by one punch outside a city nightclub, hit his head on the footpath and died after spending a week in a coma.

But the McCormack’s plea was to no avail. The years since have seen a roll-call of young men killed in their prime or horrendously injured in unprovoked attacks – Matthew McEvoy (2008), David Mitchell (2008), Justin Gallagan (2008), Cain Aguiar (2009), Luke Adams (2009) – culminating his week with David Cassair.

The flood of tributes to the 22-year-old on Facebook – used all too often as a memorial in these times – paints a picture of a music-loving extrovert, a joker with a smile etched on his face.

We don’t know what his attacker looks like. The man who ended Mr Cassai’s life and left a family sunk deep in grief is on the run, hunted by the Homicide Squad and doubtless no member of the pack he ran with that night develops a conscience. Police arrested two men on Tuesday night – and they are helping police.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright told Fairfax Media on Tuesday that despite high-profile cases such as Shannon McCormack’s, there was still a steady trickle of similar attacks every year.

While emphasising that he was talking in a general sense, rather than about Mr Cassai’s death, Mr Cartwright likened alcohol-fuelled, unprovoked, cowardly one-punch killings to domestic violence and road deaths, in that people once considered them to be inevitable.

Mr Cartwright said television and movies created the false impression that when someone was knocked out, they always regained consciousness, got up and walked away. “That’s simply not true, and people need to know that. These punches kill or cause serious brain damage,” he said.

Nothing will ever begin to match the anguish of a parent who loses their child, and it is made worse by the perceived leniency of sentences.

Jacob Polutele, the thug who punched Canadian man Cain Aguiar outside a Yarraville pub in 2009, was sentenced to a minimum of seven years in prison for manslaughter. At the time of the attack, Polutele was on a suspended sentence for knocking another man unconscious.

Foster Akoteu, who stomped on Mr Aguiar’s head, also received a minimum of seven years for manslaughter, and a third man, Sioeli Seau, spent 12 months in prison for assault.

Andriyas Tello pleaded guilty to manslaughter after punching Matthew McEvoy twice in the head outside a city nightclub in 2008 and was sentenced to eight years’ jail with a five-year minimum term. Lauren Sako pleaded guilty to manslaughter for kicking Mr McEvoy’s head as he lay on the ground and was sentenced to six years’ jail with a three-year minimum term.

Laws introduced into State Parliament last month create two new offences of intentionally and recklessly causing serious injury with gross violence. People guilty of these offences will be jailed for a minimum non-parole period of at least four years, except in special circumstances such as mental illness.

The man who killed Shannon McCormack has never been identified, despite a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest – Dan Oakes


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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