It only takes one punch to ruin two lives - that’s the message that Bedfordshire Police is urging people to take note of ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.
The force is launching its ‘one punch, two lives’ campaign today (Friday) to educate people on the deadly consequences that throwing just one punch can have.
This weekend will focus on educating those on a night out, with staff from licensed premises across the county donning ‘One punch, two lives’ t-shirts. Posters will also be displayed at various establishments to help discourage people from resorting to violence during their evening.
The force will then continue the campaign by visiting schools across the county to deliver a presentation on the issue of one punch killings and dangers of violence, and will also be attending fresher’s fairs this autumn to help educate students.
Detective Superintendent Liz Mead is the campaign lead. She said: “We want people to understand the serious consequences that throwing a punch can have. That split second decision to resort to violence could result in you not only taking the life of someone else, but also ruining your own life as you could face a substantial amount of time behind bars. Sadly it only takes one punch to ruins two lives.
“We know that alcohol can be a factor in leading people to resort to violence when they wouldn’t usually do so. We’re asking everyone who is planning on a night out over the Bank Holiday weekend to please think twice before turning to violence. Enjoy your evening, but drink responsibly and if faced with confrontation then walk away, that way everyone gets home safely.”
The force will be sharing messages on social media over the Bank Holiday weekend, you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook and look out for the hashtag #onepunchtwolives
On 23 August 2015, Tomas Juska, 24, was killed with a single punch outside a nightclub in Dunstable. His killer, Cortney Batchelor, then aged 21, was jailed in 2016 for four years after being found guilty of manslaughter.
In his victim personal statement, his brother Vaidas said: “I think about Tomas at different times of the day and sometimes find myself thinking about him in the middle of the night also.
“When I think about him I feel a mix of upset and anger. Not anger at who punched him but anger at the fact he is no longer with us.
“I do not blame the person who punched him because I realise that it takes two people to be involved in something like this but it doesn’t stop me thinking that what happened isn’t fair and that it isn’t fair that Tomas was killed in such a way.
“l sometimes think about whether I should have gone out with him that night and that if I did then this wouldn’t have happened and Tomas would still have been with us. But I know this is a silly thing to think as this could have happened at any time.”
Detective Inspector Fraser Wylie, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, who investigated the death of Tomas, has written a blog post on his experiences of one punch killings.