Mum’s relief at an appeal for killer driver

AN APPEAL has been launched against the sentence handed down to the driver who killed Shaun Zagar and his children, Kaleb, 6, and Zara, 5, in a car crash at Dyraaba last year.

The car of Malcolm Joseph Harris - who has never held a licence - ploughed into the stationary vehicle the family were in as they waited for the school bus to arrive.

The Kyogle man was sentenced last month to four years and seven months jail, but will be eligible for parole in March 2016.

In court, Harris claimed his epilepsy contributed to the crash, but Judge Wells said Harris had never held a driver's licence and had already been disqualified from driving until 2030. The judge also said Mr Harris knew he had sporadic epileptic blackouts and shouldn't drive.

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The children's mother, Warwick woman Kira Newbold, said she was overwhelmed to receive the phone call from the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"All I have wanted to hear was the appeal was going to happen. As soon as I got off the phone, I started dancing around - I am so happy," she said.

An online petition calling for the sentence to be reviewed generated strong public support, with more than 5200 signatures.

Ms Newbold said she believed this helped in the fight for a tougher sentence.

"I just want to say 'thank you, thank you, thank you' to everyone who signed the petition," she said. "It was great to see so many people were angry and thought the sentence was unjust. And it wasn't just me."

Ms Newbold hopes the appeal will not only get justice for her children and their father, but will also help protect others.

"Hopefully there will be a harsher penalty and people will see they can't get away with it and it will deter them," she said.

"I am used to being let down, but my babies weren't, so I am glad they didn't get let down with this.

"They don't have a voice anymore, but I do and it's pretty loud when I want it to be."

Shaun's father, Andrew Zagar, told The Northern Star that he welcomed the appeal, but would like to see changes to legislation regarding repeat offenders.

"This is a very grave and serious matter... This is not just about the loss to our family, but for any family that has suffered, or could suffer a similar loss.

"There are similar repeat offenders who have caused loss and grief for other families. The justice system the way it is needs to be changed to deter people. Unless there are higher penalties and people are aware of them before they go and do these stupid things, there's not much deterrent at all," he said.

The matter of the appeal is listed for a callover in the Court of Criminal Appeal on September 11.

- Additional reporting Lismore Northern Star

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