A father who lost three of his children when they were mowed down by a drunk driver has revealed new details about the killer’s surprise religious transformation.
Danny and Leila Abdallah’s children Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, Sienna, eight, and their niece Véronique Sakr, 11, were walking on a sidewalk to buy ice cream in Oatlands, in Sydney’s west, when they were struck 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 prison sentence.
Three other children were injured but survived, including Liana, the Abdallahs’ other daughter, then aged 10, as well as their niece, Mabelle, and their nephew, Tcharbel.
The Daily Mail Australia revealed in July that Davidson was becoming a Maronite Catholic in prison because of the forgiveness his family showed him after the tragedy.
Mr. Abdallah, whose family is himself Maronite Catholics, opened up more about Davidson’s religious conversion on Friday.
Walking on a trail to buy ice cream at Oatlands, Sydney. west, when they were hit by a car and killed on February 1, 2020
Mr Abdallah (right with his wife Leila) revealed details of conversations he had with his children’s killer
He revealed how Davidson read the Bible daily and spoke to other prisoners about Jesus.
“He says he feels like a monk in the mountain, in his prison cell where he feels free,” he told the Christian news site. Eternity.
“(It’s like) when Paul wrote in the prisons – he has Christ in him.”
Mr Abdallah said he asked the prisoner why he became a Christian.
“Because I want what you have; your act of forgiveness saved my life in prison,” he replied.
Mr Abdallah said Davidson told him he felt like his life was “over” after the horrific incident.
He said he later turned to religion after witnessing the family’s faith and forgiveness.
“He says, ‘This depth of forgiveness only comes from the grace of God,’” Mr. Abdallah said.
Ms Abdallah said she decided to forgive Davidson before she even knew his name while reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
“When you say, ‘I’m a forgiving person,’ you end up forgiving by expressing it in your life and taking action in the little things every day,” she said.
Samuel Davidson (photo) is serving a 20-year prison sentence for the deaths of the three children and has converted to a Maronite Catholic.
The Abdullahs will talk more about their conversations with the killer driver at the Australian National Prayer Breakfast at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday.
Mr Abdallah revealed he went to confront Davidson during a prison visit, admitting he was unsure how the meeting would go.
In an extraordinary gesture of forgiveness, the heartbroken father reached out his hand to the murdering driver, prompting an outpouring of emotion.
“I shook his hand and he fell to his knees, put his head on the ground and said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry for taking your children,'” he said.
“He was crying and I was crying – you see, no one 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 your family and find the pardon.”
Last month, Mr Abdallah announced that his wife Leila was pregnant with their eighth child.
“Leila is fine, she’s pregnant again. I got one in front of the goalkeeper! And yes, she’s been very busy with the kids,” he told 2GB at the time.
Mr Abdallah also revealed that Oatlands Golf Club had finally agreed for a memorial to be erected at the scene of the accident to honor his children.
Sienna, eight, Angelina, 12, and Antony, 13, were all killed in the tragic incident on February 1, 2020.
The family hopes the project will be ready before Christmas and Mr Abdallah says it will bring “closure” to their lives.
The Abdallahs welcomed the birth of a baby girl in March last year and with another baby on the way, the couple will be parents to five surviving children.
The couple then set up the i4give Foundation – which coincides with the anniversary of the accident – to remember their lost loved ones and help others in similar situations.
The Abdullahs also filed a civil suit against Davidson.
The lawsuit, which reportedly involves Davidson’s insurance policy, seeks payment for the ongoing trauma suffered by the family and for the children who were injured but survived the catastrophic accident.