Calls for tougher penalty after drugged driver kills three

Shaun Zagar, with children (left) Kaleb, 6, and Zara 5. All three were killed in a crash at Dyraaba.
Shaun Zagar, with children (left) Kaleb, 6, and Zara 5. All three were killed in a crash at Dyraaba.

DRUG addict Malcolm Joseph Harris killed a Casino man and his two young children as they waited at a bus stop before school two years ago.

Now the children's grandfather wants justice.

"When I stand in the shed to do some work, I often talk to Shaun, hoping maybe he will answer me back," Andrew Zagar said.

"That's how much I've been psychologically hurt."

Harris was driving under the influence of marijuana, methadone and valium when he veered into 28-year-old Shaun Zagar's parked car, killing him and children Kaleb, 6, and Zara, 5.

He had already been banned from driving until 2030 and was on parole after serving 18 months in prison for unlicensed driving.

Making matters worse, he suffered from epilepsy - a condition, worsened by drug abuse, he said caused the fatal crash.

Harris pleaded guilty and received an eight-year concurrent sentence, meaning he would be eligible for parole in March next year - unless an appeal against the "light" sentence is granted.

Crown Prosecutor Phillip Ingram took the matter to the Court of Appeals in Sydney on Thursday.

He told the court there was no evidence Harris had suffered an epileptic seizure, but admitted it could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt he had not.

Nevertheless, he said Harris consciously endangered himself, his own daughter in the passenger seat, and anyone else on the roads, when he drove without a licence and took drugs he knew could trigger a fit.

"He knowingly did the worst thing he could have done..." Mr Ingram said.

Mr Ingram called on the court to quash the original decision that deemed Harris's crime in the "mid-range" of seriousness for a dangerous driving causing death charge.

Shaun Zagar's father, and Kaleb and Zara's grandfather, Andrew Zagar, has been campaigning since the crash for tougher penalties for habitual re-offenders who kill innocent people on the road.

He has collected almost 10,000 signatures to that effect and is pushing for legal reforms to be made in parliament.

But right now, he just wants the appeal to be granted.

"Now there's nothing I can do except wait for the next roll of the dice with the legal system," he said.

"All I can do is take a step forward and answer the questions that are asked of me ... to say how it has affected me and my family."

Judgment on whether the appeal would be granted was reserved until a later date.

Topics:  casino court drug driving drugs editors picks

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