The family of Andrew Mallard, who was wrongfully imprisoned for murder in Perth then “cruelly taken” before his time in a hit-and-run in the United States, say he would not have wanted his killer jailed.
Mr Mallard, 56, was locked up for about 12 years over the 1994 death of jeweller Pamela Lawrence before he had his conviction quashed by the High Court and received a $3.25 million ex-gratia payment.
He had been trying to move on when Los Angeles basketball player Kristopher Smith, 20, fatally struck him with a car in Hollywood.
Smith was facing a four-year prison term, but under a plea deal he will only serve one month behind bars, as well as 300 hours of community service and must provide restitution to Mr Mallard’s family.
“We will miss his voice, his laughter his zest for life,” Mr Mallard’s mother Grace and sister Jacqui said in a statement on Friday.
“We are so very, very sad that he has been so cruelly taken from us before his time.”
Mr Mallard’s mother was 92 years old when he died and it placed a financial burden on the family, including funeral expenses and legal assistance to sort out his banking affairs in California and the UK.
The women told prosecutors that Smith needed to face the consequences of his actions, but Mr Mallard would not want him to go to prison.
“Andrew knew only too well, as do we, the trauma, both emotional and mental that imprisonment brings,” they said.
Asked about the sentence on Friday, WA Premier Mark McGowan said it was a matter for the US justice system.
“Andrew Mallard’s life was a tragedy … he was a bit of a lost soul,” Mr McGowan told reporters.
“What happened to him in the US was tragic … it was a darkened street, and unfortunately, Andrew was wearing very dark clothes.”
Attorney-General John Quigley, who had assisted Mr Mallard with his appeal at the time, said the US legal system was beyond his comprehension.
“I can’t understand the American justice system. It’s a very foggy system,” he told The West Live.
“Knowing that Andrew was the man that he was, and one of the most gentle souls I met, I can’t imagine he would have wanted retribution having experienced what he has experienced.
“I suspect it’s the end of the case.”
Originally published as Mallard’s killer jailed in US