Headlocks May Be Treated Like Coward Punches

Coronial inquest

Troy Nankervis

20 March 2018

Troy Nankervis

Article heading image for Headlocks May Be Treated Like Coward Punches

A Central Queensland coronial inquest into the death of a Gladstone woman may recommend treating fatal headlocks much like coward punches or one-punch strikes.

James Andrew Beale was charged with manslaughter after placing his wife Tracy Ann Beale into a headlock five years ago, leading to her death, the ABC reports.

While the manslaughter charge eventually dropped due to a lack of evidence proving Ms Beale’s death “was not accidental”, Coroner David O'Connell is now investigating the incident.

Mr O’Connell is reportedly reviewing if the use of neck compression should incur legal consequences, alongside the need for community education and awareness on the issue.

Ms Beale’s family has also called for the whole case to be re-examined.

Kylie Hillard, a barrister representing the Women’s Legal Service, said the Queensland government should make a call on the matter.

"One of the things that arose during this inquest was that it [the neck compression] could have potentially been very momentary — it could have only been seconds," she said.

"Whether that would be enough to be compression of the neck, or that would be enough to be strangulation, or what would fit within the current understanding of what those sections are, I guess it is really a matter for the Government to be able to have the opportunity to look at the evidence, and look at whether or not they want to change it."

Although neck compression was the official cause of Ms Beale's death, Mr O’Connell is reviewing other factors including reflex cardiac arrest and asphyxia.

It’s hoped the case can instigate more advocacy around preventing domestic violence.

The Coroner will reportedly hand down findings within coming weeks.

Listen Live!