‘Dad was dead in seconds’: Why this Tory MP is trying to change the law on one-punch assaults

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UKWed, 17 February 2021, 6:55 pm

Watch: Conservative MP Dehenna Davison recalls the night her dad was killed with a single punch 1:33 1:34   Conservative MP Dehenna Davison explains why she is proud to launch the APPG for One Punch Assaults

For a 13-year-old Dehenna Davison, it had been a normal Friday night staying at her nan’s house in Sheffield.

That was before they received a phone call informing them her dad, Dominic, had “passed out” in the pub.

What they didn’t know at the time was that he had been killed with a single punch.

Speaking to Yahoo News UK on Wednesday, 14 years to the day since her dad died, Conservative MP Davison recalls being in the hospital while doctors and paramedics spent 45 minutes trying to resuscitate him.

Even as this was going on, “we couldn’t quite work out what had happened, in the shock of it all”. It was only later when they found out he had been hit.

Describing the physical impact of that punch, Davison, who on Wednesday launched a cross-party parliamentary probe into one-punch assaults, says: “It was pretty much instant.

(Dehenna Davison)
Dehenna Davison has launched the All Party Parliamentary Group for One-Punch Assaults on the 14th anniversary of her dad’s death.

“The blow, the force of it and where it landed, ruptured one of the arteries in my dad’s neck. And he was dead within seconds.

“They said probably dead before he even hit the floor.”

Davison, who at 27 is one of the youngest MPs in Parliament, says “the shock of it stays with you forever”.

She says it took three years to start grieving as she “tried to be strong” for her family.

Dominic, pictured with a newborn Dehenna Davison, was killed with a single punch in 2007. (Dehenna Davison)
Dominic, pictured with a newborn Dehenna Davison, was killed with a single punch in 2007. (Dehenna Davison)

At a time “where my pals would be getting wound up about boys or clothes”, Davison was still coming to terms with not having a father.

To this day, it’s the “big life moments that make it hit home,” Davison says. “When you see big family occasions, it can be a little bit strange. A sense of: ‘Hmmm… I wonder what it’d be like if he was still here.’”

On Wednesday, the Bishop Auckland MP marked the 14-year anniversary of her dad’s death by launching the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for One-Punch Assaults.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1362013400197451777&lang=en-gb&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fuk.yahoo.com%2Fnews%2Fdehenna-davison-one-punch-assaults-185506610.html&theme=light&widgetsVersion=889aa01%3A1612811843556&width=550px

She says her family was left with a “burning sense of injustice” from the court proceedings after the man accused of her dad’s manslaughter was found not guilty.

“The coroner had confirmed it was the punch that had killed my dad. It was really hard to try and process that [not guilty verdict]. Still, even this many years later, it’s hard to process.”

Davison’s new APPG will launch a formal inquiry, potentially spanning years, into sentencing of one-punch assaults, as well as propose how courts can “provide a fairer sense of justice”.

While Davison says “there is a widespread feeling that sentences are quite lenient” for serious one-punch assaults, she adds the inquiry will not be a crusade to automatically increase sentencing terms.

“The plan is to get a fuller understanding of what this looks like for people because it’s a really complicated issue.

“Complicated also by the perpetrators as well. We have seen from the people who have committed these assaults, there are some real violent thugs who go out throwing punches every weekend.

Dehenna Davison: 'I wonder what it’d be like if he was still here.' (Dehenna Davison)
Dehenna Davison: ‘I wonder what it’d be like if he was still here.’ (Dehenna Davison)

“But sometimes we see the complete opposite, people who live very good lives who got caught in a brawl unexpectedly and a punch landed wrong.

“That’s why I’m quite keen not to just dive in head first… I want to get a fuller understanding of what the picture really looks like.”

Davison is asking anyone who has been involved, directly or indirectly, in a one-punch assault case to share their experiences for the inquiry. Email dehenna.davison.mp@parliament.uk