Family violence abusers who fatally injure their victims could spend up to 20 years in jail as part of the Liberal National Government's push to better protect victims of family violence while holding perpetrators of family violence to account for their actions.
Attorney General Michael Mischin said the Restraining Orders and Related Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill 2016 would amend section 281 of the Criminal Code - the offence of unlawful assault causing death.
Mr Mischin said while the offence was originally introduced in 2008 to deal with 'one-punch' homicides in the context of drunken violence, it had also been used in family violence cases when more serious charges could not be proven due to lack of witnesses.
The Attorney General cited the 2010 case of mother-of-two Saori Jones, who died after being punched by her partner, who was sentenced to five years in jail after being charged under section 281.
"The often abhorrent circumstances in which these assaults are committed and in how the victim dies has led the State Government to the view that the current 10 year maximum penalty does not adequately reflect the gravity of the offenders' conduct, the value of the victim's life and the need to provide a sufficient deterrent," he said.
"Given that the penalty for manslaughter has been increased from 20 years imprisonment to life imprisonment, the Government will increase the maximum sentence for the offence of unlawful assault causing death from 10 years to 20 years.
"The increased penalty is part of the Liberal National Government's commitment to discourage and condemn the use of violence generally.
"It will also provide further protection to those under threat of violence at home - predominantly women and their children - by holding those who resort to violent acts accountable for any fatal consequences of their resort to brutality."
Although the amendments are aimed at family violence perpetrators, they will also apply to punish street violence.
Mr Mischin said the proposal was part of a major reform package which would be introduced into State Parliament shortly.
The Criminal Law Amendment (Homicide) Act 2008 was introduced in 2008 in response to cases where an unlawful assault had resulted in the death of the victim but where the accused had escaped conviction for any form of homicide
It creates an offence which does not require any intention to cause death or require the death to have been foreseeable. The offence is committed where there has been an unlawful assault which happens to have the consequence of causing death
Attorney General's office - 6552 5600