Dad's dog a reminder of our loss, truckie's children tell court
The son and daughter of truck driver Bob Knight say their lives were destroyed the night a stray bullet from a gunfight between two rival gangs killed their father.
Mr Knight, 66, died when a bullet travelled 120 metres out of the KFC car park, across Milperra Road, at Milperra, and into his B-double truck as he waited at a set of traffic lights on June 25, 2009.
That bloody bullet - how does a bullet go through trees, across six lanes of traffic and kill my husband like it did?
In June, Mahmoud Mariam, 28, who the Crown claims fired the fatal shot, was found guilty by a jury of manslaughter and affray.
A 20-year-old man who cannot be named as he was a juvenile at the time was found guilty of affray and intentionally destroying property by fire.
In a sentencing hearing in the NSW Supreme Court today, Mr Knight's son, David, said he was haunted by the fact his father, a career long-haul driver, was killed while working.
"Every time I see a similar truck go by I look in to see if dad is driving," he said in tears.
Mr Knight's parents bred champion German shepherds but his mother, Jeanette, was forced to give up the dogs following her husband's death.
"To help alleviate some of her pain we took on dad's dog Chloe as a constant reminder of him and that's what we have now - a reminder, instead of my dad," he said.
His sister, Catherine Knight, said her mother was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and admitted to a psychiatric hospital about nine months after her husband of 46 years was killed.
"I had not only lost my father but the mother I knew and loved had begun to disappear," she said.
"All she kept repeating was, 'That bloody bullet - how does a bullet go through trees, across six lanes of traffic and kill my husband like it did?"'
David and Catherine took turns driving to Sydney from their homes in Canberra to attend every day of the three-month trial.
The two offenders and another man, Adel Elkobali, 21, were on trial for murder, although none were convicted of that charge. Mr Elkobali was acquitted on all charges.
"It has been hard for me to find a way to live with the verdict the jury bought down," Catherine Knight said today.
"When the verdict was handed down, there was no hanging of heads in shame. Just celebration.
"I don't think I've ever really hated anyone before. It just eats away at me," she said.
During the trial, the court heard the juvenile, a member of the "Elkobali" group, had been involved in a clash with a teenage member of the rival "Mariam" group at the Bankstown Centro shopping centre earlier that evening.
A flurry of phone calls followed, which the Crown prosecutor, Pat Barrett, likened to "marshalling the troops", and the two groups arrived at the KFC car park armed with guns.
The Crown case was that Mariam fired the fatal shot from a Ruger pistol, but all three men were liable for Mr Knight's death as each intended to inflict grievous bodily harm on another person.
Mariam and the juvenile will be sentenced at a later date.
The case of Moustafa Mariam and another juvenile who were involved in the gunfight will be mentioned on August 28.