The New Zealand Herald reports that four men who have been charged in relation to the death of pro MMA fighter Fau Vake have been granted interim name suppression until June 23. This means that it is prohibited to publish the men’s names in media reports.
NZ Herald also reports that on of the men now faces charges of manslaughter and that all of their cases have been transferred to the country’s High Court.
Vake, who trained at City Kickboxing with UFC champions Israel Adesanya and Alex Volkanovski, was attacked in the early hours of May 16 in Auckland’s city centre. It is alleged that he was struck from behind, without warning, causing him to fall to the concrete.
After this attack Vake was taken to hospital where he was placed on life support at Auckland City Hospital. Vake was taken off of life support around a week later. He was only 25-years-old.
One of the suspects, a 29-year-old man, was initially charged with assault. He received the manslaughter charge after Vake passed away. Another 29-year-old is charged with common assault and injuring with intent to injure. A third 29-year-old is charged with two counts of assaulting with intent to injure. A 32-year-old man is accused of common assault.
Lawyers for the four men did not enter a plea at their most recent court appearance (per Stuff). Two of the men were given bail. All are expected to appear in court on June 23.
After Vake was placed on life support Adesanya and City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman spoke out about ‘coward punches’ (aka ‘sucker punches’) and called for harsh penalties for people convicted to committing them.
“In the past decade there have been numerous deaths from punches thrown when people are not looking,” said Adesanya. “Given the massive publicity these crimes have received, no one is dumb enough to think there is not a serious risk of death. There is no excuse, it should be considered attempted murder or murder.”
Bareman expressed his disappointment that New Zealand Parliament failed to pass a bill in 2018 that would have mandated maximum sentences of 20 years imprisonment for coward punches. That bill was modelled after similar laws that were passed in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria in 2014.
“It’s sad to see Australia so far ahead of us in dealing with these evil acts. If New Zealand law doesn’t allow for a more serious penalty, we should all be pushing for it,” said Bareman.
Vake is survived by a 3-year-old daughter. A friend of the Vake family set up a crowdfunding site to benefit Vake’s daughter. At this time of writing that campaign has raised $55,758. You can donate to that fund here.