Josiah’s life support was turned off after two days.
Josiah’s life support was turned off after two days.

Call no big brother should make

THE father of a nine-year-old boy mown down as he looked at Christmas lights has blasted the short sentence handed to the drink-driver who killed his son.

Adrian John Murray, 25, was yesterday handed a seven-year jail term at a Queensland court after he pleaded guilty to drunkenly ploughing into Josiah Sisson on Christmas Day last year. He will be eligible for parole in just two years.

The boy's parents are devastated. "Josiah was nine - it's not even nine years," father Karl, 40, told news.com.au after the sentencing. "It's a slap in the face.

"How much was my son's life worth? Nothing? Life seems to have little value, even that of a child. Unfortunately the justice system is bound by previous cases' sentences. But the message is not getting through. What will it take, Australia?

"Everything's still pretty raw right now. It's been a hard day."

It has been an even harder year for pastor Karl, wife Bonita and their older son Jordan, 17, who was with Josiah when he was killed.

The family had gone over to a friend's house in Springwood, south of Brisbane, on Christmas evening and the two brothers went for a walk around the corner with the friend's two daughters to look at the lights.

Jordan, left in front of father Karl, was with his younger brother when he was hit by the ute, and had to call his dad to tell him the horrific news. Picture: Jack Tran
Jordan, left in front of father Karl, was with his younger brother when he was hit by the ute, and had to call his dad to tell him the horrific news. Picture: Jack Tran

They were standing at an intersection when a drunken Murray - whose friends had begged him not to drive - lost control of his ute while turning a corner. He hit a parked car before careering into the youngest of the group and crashing into a house.

He had a blood alcohol reading of 0.162 per cent.

Judge Craig Chowdhury said the motorist was so intoxicated, he almost stood on the critically injured boy as he lay dying on the ground.

It was Jordan, then 16, who called his mother and father and told them the news every parent dreads hearing. "Josiah's been hit by a car."

Karl and Bonny raced to the scene, but knew instantly that it didn't look good. Bonny, 35, went in the ambulance with Josiah and Karl followed in a paramedic's vehicle. "It was all a nightmare from there," said Karl.

Josiah died in hospital two days later, after being taken off life support.

Murray's lawyer Simon Lewis said the defendant was "deeply and genuinely remorseful" and "can never atone for what he has done".

In an astonishingly noble act, the boy's father met with his son's killer just after the accident and forgave him. The driver collapsed into Karl's arms in front of a packed church.

"I've been imprisoned by bitterness and hatred before," Karl said. "I've put to rest my anger and I forgive daily, I make that choice daily. Sometimes it's hard to accept what happens. We can only do so much, but we can decide how we want to respond."

Murray’s lawyer said he was ‘deeply and genuinely remorseful’. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Murray’s lawyer said he was ‘deeply and genuinely remorseful’. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

The family have tried hard to support each other during an agonising year.

In their victim impact statements yesterday, Josiah's parents spoke of how they had endured marriage problems since, and Karl had thought about suicide. They also decided to close their church, Potters House, in Redbank Plains.

Bonny described Josiah as a "spirited and full-of-life little boy", while Karl said he had realised that "a car in the hands of a drunk driver is like a loaded gun in the hands of a murderer".

Now the court case is over, they are focusing on getting through the anniversary of Josiah's death, at a time when so many families are celebrating together. The are pursuing a civil claim with Shine Lawyers for compensation and intend to start campaigning to increase sentences for drink-drivers, which are typically around the seven- or eight-year mark.

"There's still that to come, Christmas Day, but at least it was very hard to decipher the difference between the effects of Christmas, how I feel about Christmas and the loss of my son - and the court case," said Karl.

"Our biggest concern is the change that needs to take place.

"The laws need to change. The police have done all they can, the courts have done all the can, it's Parliament that needs to change.

"We need to know which buttons to push. I don't know my next move but that's where I want to go with it.

"I just want to make it through Christmas. Get to the other side and start again."

emma.reynolds@news.com.au | @emmareyn

The family has been in turmoil ever since. They are devastated the nine-year-old’s killer only got a seven-year jail term, with parole in two.
The family has been in turmoil ever since. They are devastated the nine-year-old’s killer only got a seven-year jail term, with parole in two.
Josiah Sisson was killed by a drunk-driver on Christmas Day last year.
Josiah Sisson was killed by a drunk-driver on Christmas Day last year.
Karl, a pastor, met with Adrian Murray not long after his son’s death and offered his forgiveness. Picture: Supplied
Karl, a pastor, met with Adrian Murray not long after his son’s death and offered his forgiveness. Picture: Supplied
Karl and Bonita Sisson said the sentence was ‘a slap in the face’. Picture: Annette Dew
Karl and Bonita Sisson said the sentence was ‘a slap in the face’. Picture: Annette Dew


PRAY FOR RAIN FOR WAYNE: Girl's gift brings farmer to tears

premium_icon PRAY FOR RAIN FOR WAYNE: Girl's gift brings farmer to tears

See the moment a 7yo girl meets the farmer she's been praying for.

How will our council spend $1m drought handout?

premium_icon How will our council spend $1m drought handout?

Fears money could go into hands of 'rich' hobby farmers.

The people who were missing from Farm Aid

The people who were missing from Farm Aid

Channel 9's telethon was short a few people who matter most

Local Partners