A Conservative MP whose father was punched to death when she was just a teenager has spoken of the trauma she suffered 15 years later.
Dehenna Davison, who announced on Tuesday that she will step down as minister of promotion, said The independent that her family had been left “absolutely devastated” by his sudden death.
She has spoken about her experience in support of One Punch Awareness Week, a campaign to educate young adults and workplaces about the dangers of one-punch attacks.
“I was 13 when my father was killed,” she said. “He had gone to a pub with his friends and never came home. A man with a violent history had walked past the pub and hit the dad once – he was dead before he hit the ground aged just 35.
Her father, Dominic, collapsed and suffered a fatal head injury, while his attacker was never jailed in connection with the crime, having been acquitted of manslaughter.
Speaking about the impact his death had on her childhood, she said: ‘It left the whole family completely devastated. It was such a shock – you don't expect your loved one to go out for a few drinks after work on a Friday and never come home.
“To have to deal with such a terrible loss and then be thrown headfirst into a criminal trial is something no family should ever have to go through.
“Even though it was so long ago and I've gotten over the grief, to this day, some of the trauma is still with me.
“For example, if my partner is out one night and I haven't heard from him for a while, my subconscious starts to thrash out that something terrible must have happened, even though the rational side of me knows that's not the case.”
Since being elected to Parliament in 2019, he has established the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Punching Assaults to help raise awareness and conduct research into punching assaults.
This included interviews with family members of those killed and with victims who suffered life-changing injuries after being punched, with the aim of providing recommendations for sentencing guidelines.
“When I took up the role as Equalization Minister, I was no longer able to chair the APPG, but I hope to reconstitute it when Parliament returns after the conference to continue our vital work,” he said. “When it comes to engaging with young people, one of the most effective things is to go into schools and talk about the real impact of being assaulted with a punch.”
“We know very well that a punch can kill, so the more people we can reach with this message the better. That's what One Punch Awareness Week is all about.”
One Punch Awareness Week runs from 18 to 22 September, with the aim of educating young adults and children about the dangers of ‘one punch' or ‘king punch' attacks.
The One Punch UK charity was set up by Maxine Thompson-Curl, whose son Kristian was killed after being punched by a stranger during a night out in Consett, County Durham.
“One-punch attacks can and do wreak havoc on victims, their families, their friends, as well as the person throwing the punch. It is life-changing in a very negative way,” the charity said in a statement.
“This disaster can be avoided by trying to control your emotions, especially when you are under the influence of alcohol. Please be responsible for your actions at all times. Stop this unnecessary destruction. Stop thinking and go.”