17 May 2019

One-punch attacker sentenced to five years for 'reckless, thuggish' act caught on CCTV

5:40 pm on 17 May 2019

A Melbourne man who punched a stranger in an unprovoked act of rage has been described as a reckless thug and handed a five-year jail term.

A closeup of the lock of a  jail cell with iron bars and a bunch of key in the locking mechanism with the door open

Daniel Vaofusi - who has New Zealand heritage - faces deportation from Australia once he is released from prison. Photo: 123RF

The attack occurred outside a Cairnlea laundromat in Melbourne's west in December 2017 and was captured on CCTV cameras.

Daniel Vaofusi is seen marching towards the victim, Levent Babacan, and punching him in the face before calmly walking off with his wife and young daughter.

Mr Babacan was waiting for a friend outside the laundromat and was a complete stranger to the attacker.

Vaofusi claimed in court that before the incident, Mr Babacan had peered through the glass looking for his friend, which he mistook for him peering at his partner.

After the incident, Vaofusi's partner asked her boyfriend "why did you do that?" to which he responded: "He knows why."

Mr Babacan was rushed into emergency surgery after the attack and suffered bleeding of the brain and a haemorrhage.

The County Court of Victoria heard the brain damage caused long-term effects, including affecting Mr Babacan's speech.

Mr Babacan told the ABC the punch changed his whole life.

"I was due to finish my studies two years ago, I had to defer. Psychologically and mentally it's been a long road, it's been a roller-coaster ride, but I'm moving forward," he said.

"It's been a long process, but I hope now moving forward this can be a deterrent."

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'This was a thuggish act'

In sentencing, Judge Paul Lacava described the act as disgraceful.

"This was a sickening, violent act that was unprovoked," he said.

"This was a thuggish act ... which as we've seen in society too often can cause catastrophic circumstances."

He also said that he felt Vaofusi did not show true remorse for the victim.

"I can see you regret punching the victim however I don't believe this comes from remorse, it's the situation [the punch] has put you in," he said.

He also rejected the defence counsel's submission that Vaofusi was drunk at the time of the attack.

Vaofusi was sentenced to five years in jail with a non-parole period of three years, however, he could be released within a year and a half due to time already served.

He is of Samoan and New Zealand heritage and faces deportation once he is released.

Outside court, Mr Babacan hugged his family and said he was pleased with the sentence.

"This was about the sentence I was expecting so now I want to get a job in accounting and just move forward," he said.

"I hope he [Vaofusi] gets the help he needs for his family's sake and I hope he gets his life back on track."