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Byron Shire
December 1, 2021

Family angered by fatal-crash sentence

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The family of a young father and his two children killed in a car crash at Dyraaba last year has hit out at the sentence handed down yesterday to the driver responsible for their deaths.

Malcolm Joseph Harris, 37, who faced three counts of dangerous driving causing death, could be out of jail in less than two years after his sentence in the Lismore District Court.

Judge L Wells told the court Harris should have known not to get behind the wheel because the drugs he was on could have affected his epilepsy.

It is believed Harris suffered an epileptic seizure moments before his car veered off the road and smashed into the stationery hatchback, killing Shaun Zagar, 28, and his children, Kaleb, 6, and Zara, 5,  as they waited for a school bus west of Casino in June last year.

Mr Zagar’s family said they’ve been devastated and angered by what they described was a lenient sentence and told media they would appeal against it.

Andrew Zagar, Shaun’s father, told media the sentence did not send ‘a strong enough community message to stop this happening’ and warned others with medical conditions not to drive if influenced by drugs.

‘We’re gutted. It’s not fair he got such a lenient sentence, he knew what he was doing,’ Mr Zagar said.

APN Media reported that Harris, from Kyogle, 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 and four months jail, with a non-parole period of two years, for another charge of dangerous driving occasioning death.

Judge L Wells took into account the time Harris spent in custody and Harris will be eligible for parole in March 2016.

Harris’ lawyers told the court that his epilepsy contributed to the crash and that Harris’ daughter also sustained brain injuries in the crash.

Judge Wells, according to APN Media, took Harris’ early guilty plea and apparent remorse into account as mitigating circumstances when sentencing.

But she said Harris, who had been convicted for driving whilst disqualified at least six times since 1995, knew he had sporadic epileptic blackouts and should not drive.

Judge Wells also said that trace amounts of drugs in his blood at the time of the crash would not have impaired his driving.

(An earlier court hearing was told Harris was on drugs at the time of the crash).

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


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  1. Yes someone who has been “convicted for driving whilst disqualified at least six times since 1995, knew he had sporadic epileptic blackouts and should not drive” does deserve more time in jail. Otherwise he’s just going to get out and do it all over again. Recalcitrant.

  2. I have just received a letter from the Justice Dept. concerning the lax sentence given to an offender who hit and run a mother of two, a sentence of 18 months. Should you read between the lines, the Govt. does not care.
    The Attorney General role as the First Law Officer of the State does not extend to his intervention in matters that concern another Minister responsible for that Office.

    In other words, BUCK PASSING, What the Govt. is saying “When you drive on the roads, it is your own fault if anything happens to you.” If you want Justice on our roads, don’t drive on them, simple.


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