CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian driver who filmed four dead and dying police officers who had been hit by a truck on a freeway was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 months in prison for what a judge described as a “heartless, cruel and disgraceful” act.
The driver, Richard Pusey, 42, a mortgage broker, had pleaded guilty in a court in the state of Victoria to a rarely prosecuted charge of outraging public decency over his commentary in crash-scene videos he shot with his phone. It was the first time the charge had been prosecuted in the state since 1963.
The most serious charge against him was reckless conduct endangering persons, which could carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. But the judge, Trevor Wraight, sentenced Mr. Pusey to 10 months in prison, backdated to when he was arrested 296 days ago. While Mr. Pusey’s sentence is almost completed, he is likely to remain in custody for unrelated matters.
The police pulled Mr. Pusey over in April 2020 for driving a Porsche at 93 miles per hour on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway. (The speed limit was 62 m.p.h.) They were considering impounding his car when a truck crashed into the officers, the Porsche and two police cars in an emergency stopping lane.
Mr. Pusey, who avoided injury because he had been urinating behind roadside bushes at the time, did not help the officers but instead pulled out his phone and filmed the scene, officials said. His profanity-laden commentary included “he’s smashed,” “justice,” “absolutely amazing” and “beautiful.”
When a bystander who came to the aid of the stricken officers asked Mr. Pusey to help, he replied, “They’re dead,” and continued filming.
“Your conduct,” Judge Wraight said to Mr. Pusey in court, was “heartless, cruel and disgraceful.”
The judge noted that Mr. Pusey had a personality disorder, which might go some way to explaining his behavior, but he said the case outraged public decency.
Mr. Pusey also pleaded guilty to speeding offenses and possessing ecstasy; he tested positive for that drug and cannabis after he was pulled over. He was also fined 1,000 Australian dollars ($773) and barred from driving for two years.
Two weeks ago, the driver of the truck that struck the four officers was sentenced to 22 years in prison. The driver, Mohinder Singh, had pleaded guilty to four counts of culpable driving causing death, three charges of drug trafficking and one count of possessing illicit drugs.
He had been impaired by drugs and sleep-deprived when his vehicle hit the officers, officials said.
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