THE Northern Echo today launches a campaign to demand tougher prison sentences for one-punch killers.

Price of a Punch will call for a review of sentencing guidelines, and comes amid growing concerns at the jail terms given to those who take lives with a single act of violence.

In August, the underage drinker who killed soldier Andrew Gibson in a Darlington nightclub was jailed for only two-and-a-half years.

Mr Gibson’s parents are planning to appeal against the sentence, and last night the Crown Prosecution Service revealed it will write to the Attorney General to ask for it to be reviewed.

Mr Gibson, a 19-year-old Scots Guardsman based at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, had been enjoying a night out before returning home for Christmas when he was punched by John Flannigan in Escapade nightclub. He died six days later.

Flannigan, 17, of Geneva Road, Darlington, admitted manslaughter at Teesside Crown Court last month.

Mr Gibson’s parents, Freddy and Linda, from Cumbernauld, Glasgow, said the sentence was “definitely not enough”.

They do not want to comment further while the appeal is under way, but Chris Enzor, Durham’s chief crown prosecutor, said: “In the case involving the tragic death of Andrew Gibson, I can confirm that we will be inviting the Attorney General to consider whether the sentence is unduly lenient and should be referred to the Court of Appeal.”

The Northern Echo’s Price of a Punch campaign has been backed by North-East politicians and families of one-punch death victims.

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman said: “This is an important campaign by The Northern Echo. Anybody going out in the evening with the intention of getting into a fight needs to understand the consequences of violence can be devastating, both for the victim and the perpetrator.

“I think sentences in these cases need to reflect the consequences for victims and their families. The law needs to put people first.”

The mother of Lee Walker, who died in 2004 after an unprovoked attack in Darlington, said sentences handed down are too lenient.

Lee’s killer was also jailed for two-and-a-half years after admitting manslaughter, a sentence which devastated his parents.

His mother, Diane, said: “This guy is out enjoying his life now. He has got a job and somewhere new to live.

“I feel that the support system around them is a lot more than the support we were given. A lot more is spent on them than it is on the victims.”

The Price of a Punch campaign also aims to reinforce the message that one punch is enough to kill – a message backed by Durham Police.

Detective Superintendent Adrian Green, from the force, said: “All it can take to end a life is for one reckless decision to be made and one punch to be thrown.

“People have to realise that, unlike in films or on television, a person on the receiving end of a punch does not simply shrug off the blow with no ill-effects.

“Such recklessness can have terrible consequences, not only for the victim and their family, but for the offender as well.”

The Ministry of Justice confirmed sentencing is a matter for individual judges but a potential reform of sentencing could take place in the autumn.

A spokesman said: “We are conducting a full assessment of sentencing and rehabilitation policy to ensure that it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting reoffending.

“The Government is committed to intelligent sentencing which ensures appropriate punishment, rehabilitation and the protection of the public.”