Heartbroken family of one-punch victim plead for answers as police launch $1m reward

Brendan Rees

The shattered parents of a young man killed by a cowardly one-punch outside a Southbank nightclub 15 years ago are still desperately hoping for answers.

Shannon McCormack, who was remembered as a “very witty” and loving family member, was just 22 years old when he died after being punched in an unprovoked attack outside the Queensbridge Hotel on May 27, 2007.

Homicide squad detectives have interviewed several witnesses and poured over thousands of hours of CCTV but are still no closer to identifying the culprit.

They have now launched a fresh appeal, offering a $1million reward – up from $100,000 in 2009 – for information that could help solve the case.

Victoria Police said Mr McCormack was attacked about 100 metres away from the Queensbridge Hotel after trying to break up an argument between his friend and another group of at least three men.

Mr McCormack was punched and suffered a serious head injury when he was knocked to the ground.

Friends and nightclub staff gave first aid before he was taken home to Eltham in a taxi.

But his condition deteriorated overnight, and he died in hospital seven days later after having undergone several operations.

His parents Cheryl and Bill McCormack said time had stood still since the death of their son.

“It’s 15 years but for us it’s like 15 seconds. It’s like we’ve been in a bubble, nothing changes,” Mr McCormack said.

“Every time you hit Christmas, anytime there’s a family function there’s an empty chair. Every christening, everything that has happened to our family there’s always someone missing. It’s very hard to deal with.”

Mr McCormack added, “When you lose a parent, you lose your past; when you lose a child, you lose your future.”

“He didn’t just kill our son; he killed a whole generation of our family.”

Cheryl and Bill McCormack spoke of their trauma while making an emotional plea at a Victoria Police press conference on June 1, saying, “you learn to live with it, but you never get over it.”

“Losing a child is one of the hardest things a parent goes through, but we’ve still got his memories.”

Mr McCormack said their son was a “very witty, funny practical joker”.

“He was always into mischief, playing practical jokes on his friends. He was heavily involved in sports; he kept all his friends his whole life,” with more than 750 people having attended his funeral.

Speaking of those responsible for their son’s death, Ms McCormack said, “Surely you’ve got a conscience, they must have a conscience but all we can do is just plead that someone comes forward.”

As part of the fresh appeal, the McCormack family said they were also motivated to “help other people” from becoming victims of random attacks, and the “education system is where you need to stop all this suffering.”

Investigators have re-released CCTV footage from 2013 showing a man who remained a “significant person of interest”.

He is described as 165 to 175 centimetres tall, and of thin to medium build with light brown or blonde spiky hair.

Images on the night of the incident show he was wearing a light purple or blue t-shirt and light blue jeans.

Detective Inspector Tony Combridge said Mr McCormack’s death was “tragic and unnecessary.”

“That night, somebody’s made a decision to act and as a result of that decision the most catastrophic of consequences have occurred and Shannon’s been taken away from his family,” he said.

Insp Combridge said homicide detectives remained dedicated to the case and would not give up until they had brought justice to the McCormack family.

“As long as this person is still out there, we will be hunting him. And at some point, somebody will come to us.”

“All we need is a name and we still believe this case can be solved.”

He added the reward money “should lure people to us to provide us with information.”

“If you do it for no other reason, do it because it’s right.”   

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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