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Answers sought in wake of Kyle Watkins' death

IN MEMORY: Ulmarra man Kyle Watkins, pictured this time last year, died on Tuesday after a Coffs Harbour assault. PHOTO: ROB WRIGHT
IN MEMORY: Ulmarra man Kyle Watkins, pictured this time last year, died on Tuesday after a Coffs Harbour assault. PHOTO: ROB WRIGHT

UPDATE, 3pm: POLICE have renewed their appeal for information surrounding the death of Ulmarra man Kyle Watkins.

Strike Force Gerda, made up of detectives from the local area command, are investigating the circumstances of the 26-year-old's death in Coffs Harbour on the weekend.

About 10.15pm on Saturday, he became involved in an altercation with an unknown man.at the intersection of Lyster Street and West High Street, during which he was punched and fell onto the roadway and hit his head.

He never regained consciousness.

Anyone with information that may assist police should phone Coffs Harbour Police Station on 6691 0799, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

OPINION: One punch too many

EARLIER: THE Ulmarra community is mourning the loss of 26-year-old Kyle Watkins, the victim of a deadly Coffs Harbour assault at the weekend.

The father-of-one's life support was switched off on Tuesday afternoon at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, after he was assaulted by an unknown offender on Saturday night.

Mr Watkins was employed by the Clarence Valley Council as a plumber at the time of his death.

Clarence Valley Council general manager Scott Greensill offered condolences on behalf of council to Mr Watkins' family, friends and colleagues.

"There is a feeling of shock and disbelief among his work mates," he said.

"Kyle was popular with everyone he worked with - not just those in his own section.

"It's just such a tragic loss; particularly given he was the father of a young son.

"One of our directors sat with his work colleagues this morning and offered counselling, but that will be offered to anyone on staff who feels they need it."

Police say Mr Watkins had been visiting Coffs Harbour on Saturday for a party with a group of friends.

Later in the evening, the group attended the Plantation Hotel before proceeding to the Coffs Hotel.

Police believe Mr Watkins left the hotel with a group of people, and he walked ahead of his mates on West High St at 10.15pm.

A friend of the man was walking some distance behind him when he saw an altercation between his friend and the assailant, where Mr Watkins was punched and fell to the pavement, causing severe injuries to his head.

The attacker was seen fleeing the area on foot down Lyster St.

Police have not been able to obtain a full description of the attacker at this stage, but detectives have formed Strike Force Gerda to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.

Coffs/Clarence acting crime manager Ian Corcoran said they had also obtained some CCTV footage from the area, which was being reviewed as part of the investigation.

They are appealing for people in the area between 10pm and 10.30pm to phone Crime Stoppers or police.

Witnesses or anyone who may have information on the altercation is urged to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Mr Watkins' family has asked people to respect their privacy at this difficult time.

Topics:  assault, crime, one punch can kill



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