Fatal driver in Jessica Falkholt crash a 'habitual offender'
FOUR jail sentences over traffic offences, one nine-year driving ban and at least 10 convictions for driving while disqualified - yet the man at the centre of the Boxing Day horror crash which killed four people, including himself, was allowed back behind a wheel.
When Craig Whitall fatally smashed his Toyota Prado four-wheel-drive into the Falkholt family's car on his way home from a methadone clinic, the 50-year-old had been declared an habitual traffic offender by the courts with more than 60 convictions to his name.
The revelations come as life support was turned off on Home and Away actor Jessica Falkholt. The 28-year-old had been clinging to life after the fiery head-on on the NSW south coast which claimed the lives of her parents Lars, 69, Vivian, 60, her sister Annabelle, 21, and Whitall.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Whitall was a serial offender who was also claiming a disability pension and who had used 28 aliases to try to avoid the police as he totally ignored the law to drive a car literally each day after being caught.
Whitall had another nine convictions for driving without a licence - four of them in the one month.
Twice in just two days in 1998 he was caught driving without a licence.
He was so well known to police in Ulladulla that they easily recognised him behind the wheel while flagrantly disregarding the traffic orders against him.
Whitall had used 28 aliases to try to avoid the police over driving offences.
In March 2011, they saw him drive past them in a white Holden Commodore and followed him home to Mollymook where he told them: "I wasn't driving, it was me mum."
Court documents show how in April 2008, he was convicted of two counts of assaulting a young family member because he was "angry" due to the child "being in trouble" with the police and having to attend Nowra Local Court frequently.
Shane Whitall was before Milton Local Court on Thursday, facing traffic, drug and break-and-enter offences.
Family photos of Lars, Vivian and Annabelle Falkholt from their funeral earlier this week.
Police have spoken to witnesses who saw Craig Whitall's Prado swerving on to the opposite side of the road at least twice before the head-on crash on December 26.
He was driving on P plates just a year after getting his licence back.
But page after page of his criminal record shows the former drug addict was somehow behind the wheel despite having racked up over 60 traffic convictions. He had been banned for the whole nine years between July 2004 to July 2013.
It still didn't keep him from driving.
In August 2004, he was jailed for nine months for driving while disqualified.
A year later for the same offence he was jailed for 16 months and declared an habitual traffic offender at Nowra Local Court.
Courts can rule someone an habitual traffic offender if they have been convicted of three or more serious driving offences in the previous five years. It adds an automatic extra five years on to any driving ban.
Despite the extended ban, he was caught three times in four months in 2011 for driving while disqualified until in July 2011 he was jailed for nine months for the same offence.
His jail sentence was suspended from September after a successful appeal. He was handed another two-year driving ban - and ordered to pay a victim's compensation levy of $67.
Yet despite all of this, Whitall got his licence back in December 2016.
His appalling record shows he was disqualified from driving for the first time before he even had a licence.
In the early '80s he was caught driving while disqualified and convicted under one of his aliases - Jamie Robert Wilson.
He was caught back behind the wheel just months after that and committed to a juvenile institution until March 30, 1987.
On top of all of that, Whitall was also convicted three times of driving while over the alcohol limit, once of driving under the influence of drugs and twice for dangerous driving.
The horrific Boxing Day crash highlighted the shocking 2017 NSW road toll of 392 deaths.
A spokesman for the state's road minister Melinda Pavey said Whitall's Habitual Traffic Offender declaration had expired at the end of his disqualification period.
"The NSW Government shares the concerns of the community following the horror crash on Boxing Day," the spokesman said.
"We will continue to do everything we can to keep our roads safe, including any recommendations from the coroner's report into the crash."
An inquest will be held into the deaths of the Falkholt family and Whitall.
SON OF FATAL DRIVER STILL IN GRIEF AT COURT DATE
THE son of the serial traffic offender who crashed head-on with the Falkholt family has faced court for a raft of traffic offences - including reckless driving.
Shane Andrew Whitall, 26, had a brief appearance in Milton Local Court on Thursday, a fortnight after his father, Craig, was killed in the horrific collision.
Police allege that Shane Whitall was dangerously and recklessly driving an uninsured Toyota Camry in Ulladulla one night in September, 2017. At the time he allegedly had an expired licence. And police accuse him of failing to stop at a stop sign on South St in the town.
In separate matters, Whitall is also accused of breaking into a house on an Ulladulla street where he allegedly stole a toolbox in November and also cultivating a prohibited plant the following month.
During a brief mention Magistrate Gabriel Fleming said "I'm sorry for your loss, Mr Whitall". Police prosecutor John de Laroche also offered his condolences.
Whitall's lawyer was successful in getting a bail variation to let him travel to the ACT to see his sister.
Magistrate Fleming said Whitall would have to enter a plea for his driving offences when he next appears in court on January 25.
Outside court Whitall said: "I'm going through a grieving stage at the moment" while his break-and-enter co-accused Shaun McDonald said his best friend had "been through hell".