New Zealander charged in relation to one-punch death - reports

Cole Miller was a promising young water polo player.
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Cole Miller was a promising young water polo player.

One of the men charged in relation to the one-punch death of an Australian teenager is believed to be a New Zealander living in Australia.

Cole Miller, 18, died of massive brain injuries in the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital on Monday, just more than 24 hours after an allegedly random coward punch in an inner Brisbane nightclub precinct.

The promising young water polo player was walking through Fortitude Valley's Chinatown Mall with a friend about 3.55am Sunday when he was allegedly felled by a single, unprovoked punch to the head.

He was rushed to hospital in a critical condition but did not regain consciousness.

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As Cole's family bid him their final goodbyes on Monday morning, two 21-year-old men faced Brisbane Magistrates Court, charged with causing him grievous bodily harm.

Armstrong Renata and Daniel Jermaine Lee Maxwell were both remanded in custody.

Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper reported Maxwell is a New Zealander living in Tanah Merah, a suburb of Logan City in Queensland. His parents are believed to still reside in Auckland.

In the wake of Cole's death, the charges against Maxwell and Renata will be upgraded at their next court appearance on February 8, Detective Acting Inspector Tom Armitt said.

While he would not comment on what the upgraded charge might be, it is believed it will most likely be unlawful striking causing death.

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The charge was introduced by the former Newman government to specifically target one-punch deaths, after a string of similar tragedies in entertainment precincts across Australia.

The charge mirrors manslaughter but removes the "accident" defence.and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Just two people have been charged with the offence since its introduction.

'HE HAS STRUGGLED BRAVELY'

Just hours after leaving his son's death bed, a stoic Steve Miller has paid an emotional tribute to a "beautiful, brave young man with his whole life yet to be lived."

Cole died, Steve said, surrounded by family and friends.

"It is with deep sadness I announce our 18-year-old son Cole has today passed away as a result of massive brain trauma," Mr Miller said.

"He has struggled bravely in the intensive care unit of Royal Brisbane Hospital and our family and many close friends have been by his bedside since the incident.

"Cole was a beautiful, brave young man with his whole life yet to be lived."

Mr Miller's voice cracked at times, as he read a pre-prepared statement in the wake of his son's death, but continued, as he offered his family's thanks for the overwhelming outpouring of support that followed news of Cole's injuries.

Supported by Cole's uncle Michael and aunt Alison, Mr Miller offered thanks to all those who had rallied behind the family.

"The Miller family would like to thank the support by Cole's school friends at Brisbane State High School and the water polo community and many, many, many others who have sent messages of love and hope," he said.

Mr Miller, the younger brother of Australian water polo player Billy Miller, was out with a friend during a break in training, before a national competition in Adelaide this week.

The competition has been cancelled following the attack, as has another tournament in Victoria.

Detectives initially believed as many as four men could be behind Cole's death but after reviewing evidence in the 24 hours since the attack, including CCTV footage and witness accounts of the incident, Acting Inspector Armitt said investigators now believed they had the two sole perpetrators of the attack.

He described the teenager's death as "absolutely tragic".

"There are no other words to describe it, his (Mr Miller's) son was a young, innocent man," he said.

The teenager's death was the most tragic of reminders of the consequences a single punch could cause, Acting Inspector Armitt said.

"People have to be reminded they are responsible for thier actions," he said.

"We have a stark reminder here today, there is no better advertisement than right now as to the consequences."

Cole, who lived in Highgate Hill, graduated from Brisbane State High School and is a member of the Brisbane Barracudas Water Polo Club team.

Tributes have flowed on social media for the young life cut short.

Renata and Maxwell have both been remanded to reappear in Brisbane Magistrates Court to face charges over Cole Miller's death on February 8.

- Brisbane Times and Stuff.co.nz

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