Community demanding justice for Dyraaba crash victims

TRAGEDY: A crime scene investigation officer examines a car that was involved in the triple fatal crash at Dyraaba.
TRAGEDY: A crime scene investigation officer examines a car that was involved in the triple fatal crash at Dyraaba. Cathy Adams

UPDATE, 11.34am: ATTORNEY General Brad Hazzard is scrutinising the sentence handed down to Malcolm Joseph Harris as community outrage builds over its apparent leniency.

"The Attorney-General is aware of concerns about this case and has asked for a transcript of the sentencing remarks," a spokeswoman said.

Harris, 37, has been sentenced to eight years jail for killing a dad and his two kids in a car crash at Dyraaba, near Casino, in June last year, but considering time served and that his sentences will be served concurrently, he could be out on parole by March 14, 2016.

The family of victims Shaun Zagar, 28, and his children, Kaleb and Zara, plan to meet with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on Friday to discuss appealing.

Andrew Zagar, Shaun's father, said his family had been overwhelmed by public support and were being contacted by local and national media outlets.

Talk of starting a petition against the sentence has been spreading on Northern Rivers-based social media pages.

"The heart of this matter is coming through the arteries and spilling out into the community," Mr Zagar said of mounting media coverage and public awareness about Harris' sentence.

Mr Zagar said Kira Newbold, the mother of Kaleb and Zara, and the rest of his family remain baffled by the verdict.

Keep watching The Northern Star in print and online for further updates.  


INITIAL REPORT, AUGUST 20: DESPITE killing three people in a car crash at Dyraaba, Malcolm Joseph Harris could be out of jail in less than two years.

The family of Shaun Zagar, 28, and his children, six-year-old Kaleb and five-year-old Zara, killed in June, 2013, were outraged by the Lismore District Court verdict yesterday, saying they will appeal.

"We're afraid it's not sending a strong enough community message to stop this happening," Andrew Zagar, the father of Shaun, said of Judge L.Wells' decision.

"We're gutted. It's not fair he got such a lenient sentence - he knew what he was doing."

He said the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions were questioning the decision and checking it's not a mistake.

Harris, 37, was sentenced to five years jail for two counts of dangerous driving occasioning death and one of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

He received an extra three years, four months jail, with a non-parole period of two years, for another charge of dangerous driving occasioning death.

Taking into account time spent in custody, the Kyogle man could be out on parole by March 14, 2016 at the earliest.

Harris' defence said his epilepsy contributed to the crash, in which the trio were killed while waiting in a car for a school bus.

Harris' daughter also sustained brain injuries in the crash.

During sentencing, Harris, dressed in prison greens, bowed his head, showing little emotion.

Judge Wells took mitigating circumstances into account, including apparent remorse from Harris, who received a 25% sentence discount for an early guilty plea.

However, the Judge said Harris, who was convicted of disqualified driving at least six times since 1995, knew he had sporadic epileptic blackouts and shouldn't drive.

Despite the court originally hearing Harris was on drugs at the time of the crash, the judge said they were only trace amounts in his blood and wouldn't have impaired driving.

Medical experts agreed his impulse control was reduced due to a brain injury from being kicked by a horse as a child, which resulted in epilepsy.

Mr Zagar had a message for others considering driving with medical conditions, or under the influence.

"Think about the people you could hurt or kill, not just yourself. You'll destroy a family who have to live with this," he said.

"We're the ones with a life sentence, not Malcolm Harris."

Topics:  court dyraaba fatal dyraaba tragedy fatal

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