The Man Who Killed His 7-Year-Old Nephew In A Drug-Fueled Car Crash Is Going To Prison

    Tensions ran high in the courtroom after the sentence was handed down.

    There were dramatic scenes in a Sydney courtroom on Friday afternoon after a man who crashed a car while on the drug ice, killing his 7-year-old nephew, was sentenced to prison.

    Robert Gawdat Shashati, 39, will serve a maximum of four years and six months, with a non-parole period of two years and three months, for the crash on January 21, 2015, that killed his nephew Marcus Shashati.

    After the sentence was handed down, there was jostling and cries of “Shame on you!” in the public gallery, as tensions mounted between relatives.

    Marcus’s mother Claudia Boyagi Shashati collapsed in grief, surrounded by family and friends.

    Outside court, she said the situation between the two groups in court was “very difficult, because we were family once”.

    She called the sentence an “absolute joke” and spoke of her “bubbly” son who loved soccer and was adored by his relatives and friends.

    “For my son to be robbed of his life and he gets four and a half years, five years," she said. "How is that justice, at the end of the day? It’s not.

    “It could never be enough for our loss if it were to be measured in any way. Marcus received a death penalty, we received life, and the convicted gets bed and breakfast.”

    She also issued an impassioned plea to drug users, addicts, and their family members to get help.

    “Please, I urge you all out there, if you are a drug user or addict, think twice before placing other lives in your hands. And I urge you to get help before it’s too late. I ask you to think about the consequences before drug taking and driving.

    “Families of drug dependent persons need to come to the party as well. If you have a loved one who is drug dependent, help them, or get them help. Do not turn a blind eye, do not be in denial, or let your pride get in the way.”

    Shashati had said at his trial in 2017 that he had taken amphetamine five days before the incident, but earlier this year told the court he remembered taking ice at around lunchtime on the day of the crash.

    Driving in Williamtown, north of Sydney, with his son and three nephews in the car, he was stopped in traffic when he decided to leave the road and drive on the adjacent grass. He collided with an embankment travelling at 82 km/h.

    Marcus was in the back seat of the car, between his two brothers, wearing a lap seatbelt. When the car hit the embankment, Marcus suffered a severe whiplash injury that damaged his spine and brain and led to his death.

    Shashati and the other three boys escaped serious injury.

    The trial focused on the extent of Shashati's impairment and intoxication. A blood test found he had 0.32mg/L of methylamphetamine in his system, as well as small amounts of amphetamine and codeine.

    Shashati had pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of dangerous driving occasioning death, but the jury found he had been substantially impaired by ice at the time of the incident and was guilty of the aggravated charge, which has a maximum penalty of 14 years.

    He had been using ice consistently since 2013, when his brother and Marcus’ father, John Shashati, had died.

    In sentencing, District Court Judge Peter Maiden found Shashati had good prospects of rehabilitation, that he had shown remorse for his crime, and took into account the fact he had pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of dangerous driving occasioning death.

    Maiden lamented the ubiquity of deaths from drink and drug driving, saying that despite severe penalties, media campaigns and the clear consequences, such incidents continued to occur.

    “Punishment after the fact can only do so much,” he said.

    He also noted that the length of sentence should not be considered as a measure of the deceased person’s life.

    “In matters such as this judges are asked to perform an impossible equation because no life can ever be equated with a period in prison, no jail term can return a loved one, and a life should not be measured in a punishment meted out to an offender,” he said.