She went to the gym while he looked after the couple’s two children. He fed and dressed two-year-old Zara and three-month-old Zachary before handing them back to her for a trip to the city.
He would never see his infant son alive again.
Nawwar took the children on the 96 tram to Melbourne Museum to meet up with women from her mother’s group.
By her side was the family nanny. The kids later slept in a double pram and Nawwar took the opportunity to run errands. She asked the nanny to take them home, said goodbye, and walked away.
Moments later, police sirens rang out on Bourke St.
In the Victorian Supreme Court today, Nawwar and Matthew stood metres from the man who snatched their son’s young life away while high, hearing voices in his head, speeding in a stolen car and determined to kill as many people as possible.
They told convicted killer James Gargasoulas that life will never be the same after he sped through Bourke St mall and killed six people, including little Zachary.
A picture of a black pram overturned behind police tape is a stark reminder of the trauma they were confronted with that day.
“Zara and Zach were asleep so I decided to run a few errands,” Nawwar told the court.
Nawwar “wasn’t too fazed” by the sound of sirens because she had heard them often in the CBD.
She called the couple’s nanny to check on them and was told the worst possible news. The pram the pair were sleeping in had been struck by the Holden Commodore Gargasoulas had used as a weapon.
Zara flew 150m but somehow survived, Nawwar said. Zachary was in a far worse condition.
“Zach was unresponsive, surrounded by doctors and hospital staff,” Matthew told the court of the moment he saw his son.
“All I could do was pray. Pray for a miracle but in my heart I knew my son had left us.”
The couple was told their youngest child would not survive. The decision was made quickly to take him off life support.
“My Zachary was gone,” Nawwar said today. “My beautiful, innocent, perfect baby was gone. I watched his little chest stop moving as he lay in my arms. He was still just perfect.”
Two years on, the family’s grief is unending. They explain to their daughter that her brother died at the hands of a killer, but she doesn’t understand.
“Do you know Zachary died?” she sometimes asks her father. “Mummy is sad,” she says.
Matthew doesn’t know what to say next.
“How do you explain that to a toddler?”
Today is the second day of a three-day pre-sentencing hearing for the 29-year-old. He yawned and crossed his arms in the dock. He wore a crumpled, untucked white shirt and messy hair while his victims read impact statements.
Yesterday, the families of Jess Mudie, 22, Yosuke Kanno, 25, and Bhavita Patel, 33, read statements to the court.
Gargasoulas will be sentenced after the hearing. His lawyers yesterday submitted to the court that their client should be given a non-parole period rather than be locked up for life with no chance of ever being let out.
Prosecutors say he doesn’t deserve to be free, given the multiple murders of children, his reckless conduct and his unenviable criminal record.
HEARTBREAKING QUESTION FROM VICTIM’S DAUGHTER
The court today heard from the family of Matthew Si, 33. His wife, Melinda Tan, said her husband of five years was unrecognisable when she saw him in hospital.
“His face and head were injured badly. His body was beyond recognition.”
The couple’s daughter, Aria, was not allowed to see her father in that condition.
“She never got a chance to say goodbye,” Melinda said.
The grieving widow told the court she would trade places with her husband in a heartbeat and that it is “much harder to be the one who survives”.
Aria is now old enough to learn what happened that day, but is confused when the subject comes up.
Melinda said her daughter asks her heartbreaking questions, including: “Did he not look left and right?”
Matthew’s brother Justin cried as he struggled through an emotional statement. His father Kheng said he was “angry” and “incomplete” after the murder of his son.
“The pain, the agony, the mental torture knowing my son left this world with no opportunity to say goodbye is beyond description.
“Every time I see a little girl call out ‘daddy’ I feel the pain.”
Kheng Si held aloft a locket with his son’s hair inside. Gargasoulas looked at his feet when he was shown the item.
‘BONES CRUNCHED INSIDE ME’
Melinda Cleland was lucky to survive the Bourke Street rampage and today told her story.
She said she remembers vividly the moment she was hit by Gargasoulas and sent flying into a concrete wall.
She was in the city to meet a friend for lunch that day — a day she wishes she could forget.
“I often wish I had no memory of the event … every sickening moment.
“(I remember) the sound of my bones crunching inside me as I bounced off a concrete wall.
“I have physical injuries that remind me daily that life has changed.”
Yesterday, the Mudie family addressed the court. Emily, Jess’s twin sister, said she is often visited by her dead sibling in dreams, but that it makes life harder.
“I sometimes forget (she died),” she said. “I go to message her about what she’s having for dinner or how her day was.”
Jess’s brother Kurt said he tries desperately to hold on to her in his dreams but she always leaves.
“She can’t stay and has to go back,” he said. “She leaves the same way she did on January 20, 2017.”
The hearing continues before Justice Mark Weinberg.
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