A driver who was on drugs, drunk and speeding when he ploughed into a group of children in Sydney’s northwest, killing four of them, has been jailed for a minimum of 21 years.
Samuel William Davidson was handed a head sentence of 28 years with 21 years non-parole at Parramatta District Court on Friday for the tragic crash in Oatlands that killed siblings Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna Abdallah, 8, and their cousin Veronique Sakr, 11.
With time already served, he will be eligible for release in January 2041.
The four children died when the Mitsubishi Triton ute driven by Davidson, who was heavily intoxicated, mounted a footpath and slammed into them from behind near Oatlands Golf Club on February 1, 2020.
Davidson had been drinking for 12 hours at his home nearby and was travelling at up to 133km/h in the seconds before he crashed into seven kids who were walking to buy ice cream.
In a courtroom full of the victims’ families Judge James Bennett said Davidson’s “horrific” actions and “menacing” driving that day revealed he had abandoned all moral responsibility.
“The manner of driving was such that tragedy was inevitable,” Judge Bennett said. “The magnitude of the tragedy extends to the unimaginable.”
The seven children were walking along the footpath to a local IGA store on a hot summer night when they were blindsided by the out-of-control ute about 7.50 pm.
During the sentencing, Judge Bennett read out in graphic detail the head, limb and internal injuries suffered by the four children who died.
Their bodies were found metres apart from each other.
The court heard a fifth child was left in a critical condition and spent 80 days in hospital but survived, while two others were also injured in the crash on Bettington Rd.
Judge Bennett said Davidson had not only robbed four children of their lives but “stole the innocence” of the three surviving children.
Davidson sat in the dock listening with his head bowed, while a small group of supporters, including his parents, watched from a jury box across the court from him.
The judge said Davidson’s parents, who lost their own daughter to cystic fibrosis in 2009, were also paying an “enormous price” for the decisions of their son.
In October he pleaded guilty to multiple charges including four counts of manslaughter, each carrying a maximum of 25 years in prison.
The 30-year-old also pleaded guilty to two counts of grievous bodily harm by misconduct in charge of a motor vehicle, and one of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm while under the influence of drugs.
At a sentence hearing last month, Bob Sakr, the father of Veronique, called on the judge to deliver the “most extreme sentence” possible.
Danny Abdallah, who lost three children, told the court no sentence would make up for the lives that had been cut short because of Davidson’s “love for drugs and alcohol”.
Abdallah said the four children’s futures were taken in the “blink of an eye” when Davidson ran them over “like a lawnmower would cut grass”.
The court heard how on the day of the crash Davidson spent the morning at his Oatlands home drinking beer and Vodka Cruisers alongside his swimming pool on Green Ave.
He started drinking at 7am and had his last drink at 7.40pm.
About 11am, the son of a retired cop snorted cocaine before he and friend Daniel Newman walked down to a local bottle shop to buy more cruisers at 3pm.
He and Newman later left the home to withdraw cash and set off in the ute, with Davidson behind the wheel, about 7.30pm.
CCTV captured Davidson pulling up to the Budget Petrol station at North Rocks before harshly accelerating out of the carpark and driving straight through a red light as he headed down Bettington Rd.
A witness reported him tailgating her and swerving from side to side as he tried to overtake her car.
In her rearview mirror, she could see two shirtless men who were laughing.
He sped through a roundabout using the wrong side of the road to overtake the car and was “quite animated” and laughing when he stuck his middle finger up at another motorist.
After stopping briefly for a red light at the intersection of Bettington and Pennant Hills roads, he drove across four lanes of traffic before the lights turned green.
Soon after, the ute approached a sharp right-hand bend on the sloping road, and while travelling at speeds in excess of 130km/h Davidson lost control of the vehicle.
It mounted a kerb and careered into all seven children, before coming to a stop 90m away.
Moments later a distressed Davidson was hopping out of his ute exclaiming, “What have I done? I have killed people. I am going to jail.”
Analysis of the ute’s computer data revealed it hit a top speed of 133km/h just seconds before the collision, at least 80km/h over the speed limit.
The accelerator was fully depressed and the brakes of the vehicle were not applied at any time in the five seconds preceding the collision, the data confirmed.
Davidson would blow a blood alcohol reading of 0.182 at the scene of the crash before returning a second reading of 0.15 at Castle Hill police station. A blood test suggested he had taken MDMA during the day.
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