It is just over 100 days since 18-year-old Thomas Kelly died from an alleged king-hit while walking down the street in Kings Cross with his girlfriend on the night of Friday July 7.
His death was completely senseless. It broke the nation’s heart. It also inflamed our shared sense of dismay at the casual nature of violence on our streets. But despite all the coverage the case received, since Thomas Kelly died there is little evidence of any significant reduction in the frequency or nature of this violence.
Since that terrible night in Kings Cross, in my hometown of Adelaide alone, two young men have died and another remains in hospital after unprovoked king-hit attacks. The cases received limited attention nationally, largely for the depressing reason that similar cases were playing out in other parts of the country.
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Like many, I was shocked to hear of the death of Thomas Kelly enjoying his first night out in the city with friends.
The vibrant nightlife is one of the many things I love about living in Sydney’s inner city. From performance venues and outdoor events to restaurants and bars (big and small), the city shines after dark. But unfortunately, stories of nights out being marred by booze related violence are all too common.
Literature on alcohol related crime tells us that two of the most reliable predictors of alcohol related violence are the trading hours and the density of licensed premises.
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Since the terrible death of Thomas Kelly early last week Sydney has been caught up in an emotional debate about alcohol, street violence, Kings Cross, drug use in the area, gym junkies, late-night transport, licensing laws and policing.
And then this morning outside court a supporter of Thomas’s accused killer Kieran Loveridge allegedly responded to the attention of the media scrum by pushing a Channel Nine camera man to the ground. According to news reports the camera man was still barely conscious 20 minutes later when he was loaded into an ambulance.
While the community hand wringing over societal issues such as the myriad raised in the first par has its place, if the reports about this morning’s events outside court are true perhaps we’re all being a bit too “big picture” about violence.
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