Geoffrey StrongA TRUCK driver who punched a co-worker to death after the pair argued over a minor accident in the yard of a Sandgate freight company has been jailed for a maximum of six years, becoming the firstman to be sentenced undera variation of the state’s new “one punch” laws.
Geoffrey Michael Strong, 46, appeared in Newcastle District Court on Friday where Judge Roy Ellis sentenced him to a non-parole period of three years and six months for causing the death of Glenn Canning, 45, at Crawford Freightlines on August 4, 2015.
The catalyst for the fatal assault was a minor crash between Strong’s truck and Mr Canning’s forklift in the yardabout 2.40pm, according to an agreed statement of facts.
A short time later, the pair argued and traded obscenities before Strong walked around the front of his prime mover to where Mr Canning was still sitting in his forklift.
He reached up and punched Mr Canning four times in the head.
Mr Canning slumped forward in the seat and was pronounced dead before paramedics could get him to hospital.
Strong was initially charged with manslaughter, but pleaded guilty to the alternative charge of assault causing death on the first day of trial.
The offence falls under the state’s new “one-punch” laws, passed in 2014 after several high-profile “coward punch” cases in Sydney, and carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.
The offence was created to deter alcohol-fuelled violence, however it included a provision featuring the same criminal elementsbut without the aggravating feature of the offender being intoxicated.
“As best as I was able to ascertain there have been no prior sentences in NSW under [that section],” Crown prosecutor Brendan Queenan told Judge Ellis.
The court heard two emotional victim impact statements, including one fromMr Canning’s daughter, Renee, who outlined the huge hole his sudden death had left in their family.
Strong’s barrister, David Price,submitted his client was subject to “extra-curial punishment”, citing a “letter of demand” from WorkCover NSW who are seeking to recover from Strong a large insurance payout made to Mr Canning’s family.
Judge Ellis ordered Strong be eligible for parole on March 28, 2021.