Duncan Garner: Any new coward punch law should add extra punishment, even if it doesn't kill

OPINION: I can't imagine what the family of Fau Vake has been through over the past week - looking for signs of life, a glimmer of hope and something to cling onto. 

The truth was, Vake was only being kept alive by life support - he was eventually pronounced dead on Sunday after being the victim of an alleged coward punch more than a week ago. 

His friends claim he was hit from behind as he went to get in a cab in Auckland's CBD.

No one wants that to be their boy - the grief must be inexplicable.

In this case, the police have said more charges are likely and the court is the place to find the facts.

But while I trust the courts to find the facts, I'm not sure they're equipped with a sufficient deterrent.

Fau Vake.
Fau Vake. Photo credit: Supplied

It's easy to react angrily and even in a knee-jerk emotional sense calling for a coward punch law, but if it was passed then anyone throwing a single, so-called "coward punch", where the victim dies, would face a mandatory 20-year jail term. 

There's no room to look at the contributing factors - one size fits all. 

But those in the system, like lawyers, say it's not needed - because every crime is different.

Here's my argument for a law change.

Anyone throwing a powerful king hit to the back of someone's head, when they can't defend themselves, does so knowing that it might result in the death of the victim.

And if they don't, then a new law makes that abundantly clear.

It should also add extra punishment, even if the punch doesn't kill.

It's a big deterrent and puts a line in the sand that says, "if you take a coward's swing, you're attempting murder".

Duncan Garner hosts The AM Show.