The scene at Dyraaba where three people were killed in a crash.
The scene at Dyraaba where three people were killed in a crash.

Medical report delays sentence for Dyraaba crash driver

THE sentencing of a driver who killed a father and two kids in a car crash at Dyraaba last year has been adjourned until August after medical complexities were introduced by the defence.

Malcolm Joseph Harris, 36, appeared before Magistrate L.Wells yesterday, charged with three counts of dangerous driving occasioning death while under the influence and another charge of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm while under the influence.

The Kyogle man was under the influence of methadone, diazepam and marijuana when Shaun Zagar, 28, and his children, six-year-old Kaleb and five-year-old Zara, were killed while waiting for a school bus after Harris crashed into their Mazda on June 4, 2013.

Harris's lawyer said he suffered a frontal lobe brain injury as a child, lowering his impulse control and judgment, and that he suffered from epilepsy, which contributed to the crash.

The medical conditions were supported by several tendered reports from Neuro psychologists and psychologists and the defence pointed to similar cases of precedent.

This was claimed to lower Harris's moral responsibility,

but the crown prosecutor argued Harris had shown sound impulse control while in custody and that he knew of his epilepsy, meaning he should have avoided driving.

The magistrate said she commonly saw defendants without impulse control before her who did not present with brain injuries and asked whether the information was relevant.

She also noted Harris knew he had sporadic epileptic blackouts exacerbated by illicit drugs, and questioned why he would risk lives by driving.

Kaleb and Zara's mother Kira Newbold and Mr Zagar's father Andrew Zagar took the witness stand during the case to deliver emotional victim impact statements.

Harris remained quiet and stared at his feet for much of the sentencing and only glanced briefly when asked to examine a photo of Mr Zagar, Kaleb and Zara.

Mr Harris had his daughter, 3, and son, 4, in the car with him at the time of the accident. His daughter received traumatic brain injuries, but is slowly recovering.

The case was adjourned until August at Lismore District Court after the magistrate noted increasing complexity of the sentencing hearing.

Suggestions were made to adjourn the case to an earlier date in Sydney, but the victims' family wanted to keep the case in Lismore.

Other charges against Harris were not before the court on the day.