A father who lost three of his children when they were mowed down by a drunk driver has revealed new details of the killer’s surprise religious transformation.
Danny and Leila Abdallah’s children Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, Sienna, eight, and their niece Veronique Sakr, 11, were walking on a footpath to buy ice-cream at Oatlands, in Sydney‘s west, when they were hit by a car and killed on February 1, 2020.
The driver, Samuel Davidson, was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time. He is serving a 20-year jail sentence.
Three other children were injured but survived including the Abdallahs’ other daughter Liana, then 10, and their niece, Mabelle, and nephew, Tcharbel.
Daily Mail Australia revealed in July Davidson was becoming a Maronite Catholic in jail because of the forgiveness the family showed him following the tragedy.
Mr Abdallah, whose family are Maronite Catholics themselves, opened up further about Davidson’s religious conversion on Friday.
Danny and Leila Abdallah’s children Antony, (far left) Angelina, 12, (far right) Sienna, eight, (centre left) and their niece Veronique Sakr, 11, were walking on a footpath to buy ice-cream at Oatlands, in Sydney ‘s west, when they were hit by a car and killed on February 1, 2020
Mr Abdallah (right with wife Leila) has revealed details of conversations he has had with the killer of his children
He revealed how Davidson was reading the Bible daily and talking to other prisoners about Jesus.
‘He says he feels like he’s like a monk in the mountain in his prison cell where he feels set free,’ he told Christian news site Eternity.
‘[It’s like] when Paul wrote inside the prisons – he’s got Christ in him.’
Mr Abdallah said he asked the prisoner why he had become Christian.
‘Because I want what you have; your act of forgiveness saved my life in prison,’ he replied.
Mr Abdallah said Davidson had told him he felt like his life was ‘finished’ after the horrific incident.
He said he then turned to religion after witnessing the family’s faith and forgiveness.
‘He goes, “That depth of forgiveness is only through the grace of God”,’ Mr Abdallah said.
Ms Abdallah said she decided to forgive Davidson before she even knew his name by reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
‘When you say, “I’m a forgiving person,” you become forgiving eventually by speaking it into your life and acting on a daily basis in the little things,’ she said.
Samuel Davidson (pictured) is serving a 20-year jail sentence for the death of the three children and has converted to a Maronite Catholic
The Abdallahs will open up further about their conversations with the killer driver at the Australian National Prayer Breakfast in Parliament House, Canberra, on Monday.
Mr Abdallah revealed he went to confront Davidson at an organised visit in prison, admitting he was unsure of how the encounter would play out.
In an extraordinary gesture of forgiveness, the heartbroken dad put his hand out to the killer driver, which prompted an outpouring of emotion.
‘I shook his hand and he just fell to his knees, put his head on the floor and said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry I took your kids,” he said.
‘He was crying and I was crying – you just see nobody won in this.
‘I was at a crossroads in my life and the hardest question as a parent is you can lose your whole family with bitterness and seek revenge, or you can keep half of your family and find forgiveness.’
Last month, Mr Abdallah announced his wife Leila was pregnant with their eighth child.
‘Leila’s well, she’s pregnant again. I got one past the goalkeeper! And yeah, she’s been pretty busy with the kids,’ he told 2GB at the time.
Mr Abdallah also revealed the Oatlands Golf Club had finally agreed to a memorial being set up at the scene of the crash to honour his children.
Sienna, eight, Angelina, 12, and Antony, 13, were all killed in the tragic incident on February 1, 2020
The family are hoping it will be ready before Christmas with Mr Abdallah saying it will bring ‘closure’ into their lives.
The Abdallahs had welcomed the birth of a baby girl in March last year and with another baby on the way, the couple will be the parents of five surviving children.
The couple later set up the i4give Foundation – which coincides with the anniversary of the crash – to remember their lost loved ones and help others in similar situations.
The Abdallahs have also launched a civil suit against Davidson.
The legal action, which is believed to involve Davidson’s insurance policy, seeks payment for ongoing trauma to the family and for children who were injured but survived the catastrophic accident.