One “king hit” and a young man out to enjoy his New Year’s Eve was so badly injured that 11 days later he is now dead. The five assault charges against the perpetrator have now been upgraded to murder and the name of the killing act has changed too. It is now called a “coward punch.”
Daniel Christie, 18 years old, was out with his brother Peter to see in 2014 and the two boys were making their way to a nightclub in Sydney’s Kings Cross. It was around 9 p.m. and they were looking forward to a great night and the famous show of fireworks at midnight. Also on Victoria Street at the same time was builder and laborer Shaun McNeil, 25, a self-proclaimed martial arts expert. He had already hit three underage boys on the corner of Victoria and Darlinghurst as they allegedly came up to him to ask to buy some drugs.
The three lads were terrified and they ran. One scampered out of sight, but the other two chose to try to take refuge behind the bodies of Daniel and Peter. By sheer coincidence, Daniel was now in the firing line. McNeil swung a fist and it came down on the side of young Daniel’s face, flinging him backwards and onto the pavement, where his head took another mammoth blow. Peter tried to come between his brother and McNeil and caught a busted lip, but he was too late to save his sibling. His skull was fractured.
Daniel Christie was rushed to St. Vincent’s and was on life support, but he remained in a coma. His parents issued a statement on Saturday, calling it the saddest announcement they could possibly make, that their beloved son had passed away surrounded by his family and his friends. They went on to say how Daniel had battled with great courage and how they had been given time to say their farewells. “While no words can describe how crushed we are” said the family, it had ”tightened even further the bond our family share.”
The family had also made another heart-wrenching decision, along with the one to turn off Daniel’s life support. They have donated all his organs, giving the gift of life to at least ten other people. They felt this would honor their boy’s “generous and giving spirit.” Daniel’s nickname was “Bones,” and the many tributes to him on social media have used this name with great affection and palpable sense of terrible loss.
Daniel is now the 15th innocent victim to die from a king hit punch in the past six years in Australia.
The attack on Daniel occurred at a location only meters from the spot where Thomas Kelly, another 18-year-old teen, was struck and killed in 2012. When Daniel was first taken into the hospital on New Year’s Eve, another man was already in the intensive care unit. He had taken 25 punches to the head earlier that same night. It is understood this man has now recovered and been discharged. A week later, Michael McEwen, 23, spent a week in a coma after being stomped on and punched at Bondi Beach; he has now made it out and into rehab. These types of acts, when they result in the death of the victim, could now all be considered to be murder if the charge against McNeil is upheld.
The Christie family are now sending out a plea that these “king hit” crimes be known forever after as “coward’s punches.” The violence on the streets of Sydney is escalating to an unacceptable level. Despite stricter measures against public drinking, these crimes are more often than not alcohol-fueled. New South Wales has the highest death toll of all the states, with 28 deaths since 2000; and, across Australia, there have been a staggering 91 deaths by king hits this century. Never before has a murder charge been applied.
McNeil has been refused bail and will appear in court on March fourth. The king hitter, aka coward puncher, may go down for murder as there is no question he took this young man’s life.
By Kate Henderson