The man who killed teenager Patrick Cronin with an unprovoked punch to the head during a brawl at the Windy Creek Hotel, has been tried and sentenced for manslaughter.
A brawl at the pub in Diamond Creek in outer Melbourne saw up to 30 men erupt into fighting inside and outside, with management unable to quell the situation for some time and bystanders getting caught in the action.
19-year-old Patrick Cronin went to the aid of friend Anthony Hopkins, who was defending himself against two other men, when a third man, 33-year-old William Lee, struck Cronin and Hopkins once each in the head.
In court it was revealed Lee was trained in Muay Thai martial arts, and CCTV footage showed him hit Cronin in the weakest part of the skull, only a couple of millimetres thick, according to forensic pathologist Yeliena Baber.
Cronin left the scene with friends soon after the incident, and didn’t mention feeling unwell until around an hour later. He was taken to hospital and found to have bleeding on the brain. Two days after admission his life support was reluctantly switched off.
Two days after the brawl Lee presented himself to police.
In an initial hearing in May, Lee’s defence argued lack of intent, and won a bid to have the charge of murder downgraded to manslaughter. He was granted bail under strict conditions and $350k surety.
Victoria’s laws around attacks deemed a ‘coward’s punch’ impose a minimum 10-year sentence. The focus of the legislation is unprovoked attacks, typically done without warning or opportunity for the victim to defend themselves. Comparable legislation in NSW refers to these incidents as ‘one-punch’ attacks, like that which killed Thomas Kelly in Kings Cross.
Lee was not charged under the coward’s punch law, as his single punch (to each) was not a sustained attack, and thereby does not constitute ‘intent’.
Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry, having seen the footage, determined Lee’s attack was not pre-meditated, and noted his remorse and good prior history.
“Your actions were spontaneous, which occurred over a few seconds,” commanded Justice Lasry. “You made a terrible mistake. You are remorseful for what you have done.”
Lee received eight years’ jail, with eligibility for parole in five years.
Patrick’s parents, Robyn and Matt Cronin, told ABC Radio Melbourne they were disappointed with the result, and still mourn the loss of their son.