A Shoalhaven man who pleaded guilty to a number of serious driving charges which led to the death of a Sydney mother at Narrawallee in 2018 has been jailed for four years.
Chris Sharp, 42, of Narrawallee, had previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death and two counts of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm following a fatal crash on Matron Porter Drive, Narrawalle on January 11, 2018 which claimed the life of 36-year-old Tamara Mobarrez and left her husband, Hamid Mobarrez, then 36, and five-year-old son Eli with severe injuries in Sydney hospitals.
Nowra District Court had previously been told Sharp had a mixture of prescription and recreational drugs in his system but was not aware he had overmedicated on his anti-anxiety medication until he was made aware of the results of a toxicology report.
There were no specific allegations that this led to the accident or the manner of his driving at the time of the crash.
In a two-day District Court sitting in Nowra in February Judge Richard Weinstein heard Sharp's toxicology report showed the presence of an excessive amount of alprazolam, sold under name Xanax, among others - a potent short-acting benzodiazepine most commonly used in short term management of anxiety disorders, specifically panic disorder or generalised anxiety disorder.
There were also traces of the painkiller endone, the calming drug diazepam and cannabis.
The court heard Sharp was prescribed to take four Xanax tablets a day to deal with his acute anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder stemming from the birth of his daughter Mia four years previously.
Mia suffers a number of significant medical conditions - she is severely disabled, being a quadriplegic who also suffers cerebral palsy, epilepsy and has sight issues. She is also non-verbal and requires 24/7 care which her parents provide along with some assistance. She also attends a special school when she is able.
The court heard both parents attend to their daughter's needs and it often takes at least two carers to meet some of the requirements to move her; she didn't cope well with new people and had grown a strong bond with parents and was often easily upset if neither of them were with her.
The court heard Mr Sharp's day could start as early as 4am, at which time he would take his first dose of Xanax to help contain his crippling anxiety.
He would then take his medication as prescribed by doctors each three to four hours but not exceed four tablets in any one day.
The couple look after their daughter in shifts, with evidence before the court saying Mr Sharp's day usually ended around 8.30pm at which time he tried to go to sleep, which proved difficult with his anxiety issues.
The day of the accident he had an argument with his wife and sought respite by making a delivery of milk products to his mother's nearby Milton home.
But he was unsure of how many doses of medications he had taken.
Mr Sharp also suffered a back complaint and had taken endone the previous evening to relieve the pain and had taken the calming drug diazepam.
He told the court he had consumed a quarter of a marijuana joint either the night before the accident or the previous evening, which relaxed him and allowed him to sleep.
He said he was unaware he had exceeded his xanax does until after his toxicology report came back.
While he can remember incidents leading up to the accident, Mr Sharp told the court he can't recall how many Xanax tablets he took.
The court was told one of the side effects of taking the drug was the possibility of patients suffering amnesia or transient amnesia, where they simply cannot remember things.
The court heard Sharp had shown remorse over the incident and "had not shied away from the charges", had "pleaded guilty at his first available opportunity" and was attempting to wean himself off the various medications he is prescribed.
In handing down his sentence in Campbelltown District Court on Friday, July 3 Judge Weinstein sentenced Sharp to an aggregate term of four years' jail, with a non-parole period of 14 months.
He will be eligible for release on September 2, 2021.
Upon his release he will also be disqualified from driving for three years.