First person charged under 'one-punch' laws jailed for eight years

The first person charged under the state's controversial "one-punch" laws for fatal alcohol or drug-fuelled assaults has been jailed for a maximum of 10 years, including a mandatory minimum of eight years, for the death of Sydney nurse Raynor Manalad.

Hugh Bacalla Garth, then 21, delivered a single, savage blow to the head of the 21-year-old nursing graduate outside a birthday party at Rooty Hill in western Sydney on May 2, 2014.

District Court Judge Antony Townsden said Mr Manalad, who had just started working as a registered nurse, "tragically never regained consciousness".

At the time of the offence, Garth was on a good behaviour bond for assault and breaching a domestic violence order, Judge Townsden said.

"It could not be said his offending behaviour is an aberration," he said.

Judge Townsden said one-punch attacks were all too common and the community had "the rightful expectation that judicial officers will impose meaningful penalties".

The attacks caused "grave disquiet and the community is understandably angry and frustrated at their occurrence", he said.

Judge Townsden was required by law to imprison Garth for a minimum of eight years before he would be eligible for parole.

He imposed an additional two years on top of the sentence, handing down a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Garth, who has been in jail since 2014, will be eligible for parole after the expiration of eight years on August 2, 2022.

Mr Manalad's mother Teresita said outside court: "It's over. Life moves on. I've accepted Ray's passing from the very beginning. This is nothing."

She said she did not "feel anything" for her son's killer or his family.

The court heard Garth had not been invited to the party but attended with his girlfriend who was a cousin of the host.

He was charged with assault occasioning death, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail if the offender is intoxicated at the time.

A District Court jury found Garth guilty of the offence in May.

He was also charged with an unrelated assault and affray relating to incidents on the same night.

"I told you not to f--- with me ... I'll take on anyone," the court heard Garth yelled after the attack.

Under new laws introduced in January 2014, following the deaths of Sydney teenagers Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie from one-punch attacks, anyone who fatally punches someone while intoxicated including under the influence of drugs must be given a minimum eight-year jail term.

The laws caused widespread disquiet in the legal profession and were criticised as removing judicial discretion to decide the appropriate penalty.

No mandatory minimum sentence applies if the offender is sober at the time of an attack.

Garth's sentence was delayed after his defence team questioned the constitutional validity of the mandatory minimum term.

Judge Townsden said Mr Manalad's mother showed "enormous courage and strength" in delivering a victim impact statement to the court in September.

He said Mrs Manalad had told the court her son's tragic death had "completely changed her life and that of her family".

"Her son had become a registered nurse and was passionate about helping people," Judge Townsden said.

He extended his "deepest sympathy" to the family.

This story First person charged under 'one-punch' laws jailed for eight years first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.