NYE 'coward punch' victim dies

Last updated 09:06 12/01/2014
NYE 'coward punch' victim dies
DANIEL CHRISTIE: "A beacon of morality with a heart of gold".
NYE 'coward punch' victim dies
SHAUN MCNEIL: Facing assault charges, should it be more?

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In Australia, the director of public prosecutions has been asked to examine whether the man charged with assaulting Daniel Christie on New Years Eve should be charged with murder, after the teenager died in hospital on Saturday.

The Christie family turned off his life support on Saturday afternoon at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, where Daniel had been in a coma since he was attacked on New Year's Eve in Kings Cross.

"This is the saddest announcement we can possibly make - that Daniel is no longer with us. Today our beloved Daniel passed away in hospital surrounded by his family and friends," his family said in a statement.

"While no words can describe how crushed we are, Daniel fought courageously over the past eleven days which allowed everyone to say their farewells. It has also given us all strength and tightened even further the bond our family share."

His family said they would honour his giving spirit by donating his organs.

The attack, which left the 18-year-old with a fractured skull, occurred just metres from the site where Thomas Kelly, also 18, was struck in 2012. Kelly later also died from head injuries, sparking a public outcry over alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney.

The public furore has grown in the wake of the attack on Daniel a fortnight ago. Martial arts fighter Shaun McNeil is facing five assault charges over the New Year's Eve incident.

NSW Attorney General Greg Smith expressed his sympathies to the families and said he had contacted the director of public prosecutions over the matter.

"I have spoken to the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions and asked him to closely examine this case with a view to determining if murder charges are appropriate in light of the evidence, and in light of the alleged offender's reported martial arts experience," said Mr Smith in a statement.

"These incidents have focused community attention on alcohol-related violence, and the government will be working with police to make our streets safer. Last month I met with the Kelly family and I am giving careful consideration to their proposals."

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McNeil, 25, was charged with assaulting Daniel, his brother Peter and three under-age boys all in 90 seconds in Kings Cross.

Police allege McNeil punched the boys on Victoria Street about 9pm who then ran and hid behind the Christie brothers who were walking down the street on their way to a nightclub to celebrate the new year.

McNeil allegedly punched Daniel, 18, once in the face using a closed fist. Daniel fell backwards and hit his head on the road, causing him to lose consciousness.

Peter tried to throw himself between McNeil and Daniel but was also allegedly punched and suffered a cut lip.

Daniel was taken to St Vincents Hospital, where another man lay in the hospital's intensive care unit after being punched 25 times in the head earlier that night in an unrelated incident. It is understood that man has recovered from his injuries.

A week after Daniel's attack, 23-year-old Michael McEwen left St Vincents for a rehabilitation centre after spending a week in a coma fighting for his life after he was punched and stomped on at Bondi Beach.

The Christie family has described the blow that killed their rugby-mad son as the "coward's punch" and his death will add to the pressure on the O'Farrell government to take action to stem the violence on Sydney's streets during the peak summer drinking season.

King hit punches have claimed 91 lives since 2000, according to the Monash University's forensic medicine department. The study found NSW had the highest toll - with 28 victims.

In a public statement released on Saturday afternoon, Daniel's family paid tribute to him.

"Daniel was exceptional. He was a beacon of morality with a heart of gold. We are so proud of Daniel and will strive to live with the core values he possessed; respect, dignity, pride and integrity."

"He was someone who had faith in anyone, which in turn, inspired people to have faith in themselves. Daniel was so caring and encouraged people to be the best they could be."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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