Cole Miller death: ‘Give killer more time’
THE Attorney-General wants the sentence for Cole Miller's killer almost doubled in an appeal that could set a tough new precedent for the State's one-punch law if successful.
Armstrong Renata was last year sentenced to seven years' jail after pleading guilty to unlawful striking causing the death of Mr Miller on a night out in Fortitude Valley in 2016.
The case is one of only a handful that have been heard in Queensland involving the charge, which carries a maximum penalty of life behind bars and requires attackers to serve 80 per cent of the sentence if convicted.
Renata's seven-year jail term is the highest sentence that has so far been handed down in Queensland for the offence.
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath lodged an appeal against Renata's sentence in November 2017, arguing it was manifestly inadequate.
In a Queensland Court of Appeal hearing on Wednesday, Crown Prosecutor Carl Heaton QC argued Renata should have been handed a sentence of 12 years' jail for the attack that killed the talented water polo player in a Valley nightclub.
Mr Miller was knocked out and hit his head on concrete after being punched in the side of the head by Renata, who fled the scene with another man.
The 18-year-old died in hospital days later.
Mr Heaton argued Renata's actions in attacking the teen were "precisely the type of offending" that prompted the introduction of the charge in 2014, as a "very specific legislative response to a perceived community concern" about alcohol-fuelled violence.
He said unlawful striking causing death was more serious than manslaughter that involved a punch to the head or neck because the attacker is "liable for the death" and cannot argue a defence of accident.
Mr Heaton also argued comparing previous sentences for manslaughter to the current case did not reflect the specific nature of the charge - to target gratuitous violence in party areas at night.
"I come back to the circumstances of this (case), with regard to this striking offence and we see what must be an almost perfect fit," he said.
"It's difficult to conceive of a case that is more precisely fitting the factual circumstances, which attracted this striking offence.
" … Dealing with what he (Renata) did, it is conduct that warrants, at least, the bare minimum double figures (sentence) but I submit, a sentence not less than 12 years …
"I say the resulting penalty was too low having regard to all the things that were in his (Renata's) favour and the circumstances."
Renata's barrister, John Allen QC argued the point of the legislation was not to penalise defendants more harshly than if they had been charged with manslaughter.
"Why not as some kind of guidance … look into manslaughter sentences?" Mr Allen said.
The Court of Appeal will deliver their decision at a later date.