News

Mum wants justice for children killed in crash

SHE was the curly-haired five-year-old who loved to push her polished fingernails into the dirt as she played cars and trucks with her brothers.

He was the book-loving six-year-old, whose cheeky smile could turn his mum's day from bad to perfect.

As the close siblings waited with their father for their school bus to arrive one June morning last year, tragedy struck.

On the day before he was to turn seven, Kaleb, his little sister Zara and their father Shaun were all killed when an out-of-control car slammed into their stationary vehicle in Dyraaba, near Casino.

The children's mother, Warwick woman Kira Newbold, said she has been handed a "life sentence" of pain following her children's death.

Their killer, Kyogle man Malcolm Joseph Harris, received much less.

Harris was last week sentenced to five years jail for two counts of dangerous driving causing death and one of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.

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

Taking into account time already spent behind bars, the 37-year-old could be free by March 14, 2016.

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The Lismore District Court initially heard Harris, who has a history of driving offences and was unlicensed, was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.

The judge said there were only trace amounts present in his blood and that wouldn't have impaired his driving.

Harris's defence counsel said the crash, which left Harris's own daughter with a brain injury, was caused by his client's epilepsy.

Kira Newbold said she was infuriated by the sentence and believed the illicit drugs played a bigger role in the crash.

"I knew he would get time served and leniency for pleading guilty, but I expected to hear 20 years, not 19 months," she said.

"I burst into tears and I am so angry. I didn't know what to think. Why does he get to walk out and see his kids, but I never get to see mine? He gets a lenient sentence and I get a life sentence.

"The justice system is a joke. We have a system, but I am not sure there is any justice involved in it."

Within a day of the sentence being handed down, a family friend had offered to start a petition calling for a tougher penalty.

Less than a week later, the petition has 5000 signatures from people supporting a harsher sentence for Harris.

Kira said she was overwhelmed by the public support and hoped it would result in an appeal.

"I want a harsher sentence and I would love to see him behind bars for the rest of his life," she said. "I know that isn't going to happen, but I think 10 years for each life he took is reasonable.

"He shouldn't be on the road. That could have been anyone's kids he killed, it just happened to be mine."

With two younger children, Kira has had to pull herself up from the heartbreak.

She said the best form of therapy was talking about the things she loved most about Kaleb and Zara.

"They were just gorgeous kids," she said.

"Zara was a princess who loved chasing butterflies and having her hair and nails done, but next thing she was playing in the mud.

"Kaleb was cheeky and had these bright blue eyes. He loved the attention, but made you work for it.

"I didn't think anything like this would ever happen to me and I would give anything to have them back again."

To sign the petition, visit www.communityrun.org/petitions  and search for "Zagar".

Topics:  dyraaba fatal, dyraaba tragedy, editors picks, fatality



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