Truckie Mohinder Singh jailed for 22 years over deaths of four police officers

The truck driver who killed four police officers on the Eastern Freeway last year has been jailed for 22 years over offending that a judge labelled “chilling” and said caused an “entirely unnecessary” loss of life.

Mohinder Singh was fatigued and drug-affected, having spent the days before the April 22 crash using and dealing instead of resting, when his 20-tonne prime mover veered into the emergency lane in Kew and crashed into the officers and their stationary vehicles.

Mohinder Singh arrives at the Supreme Court for his plea hearing last month. Credit:Jason South

Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney, who were discussing impounding Richard Pusey’s Porsche after pulling him over for speeding, were killed when Singh’s truck ploughed into them at between 62km/h and 80km/h at 5.36pm.

Pusey was urinating at the side of the road when the truck hit and he filmed the dying officers on his mobile phone before leaving the scene. His Porsche was also destroyed.

A week out from the first anniversary of the tragedy, Supreme Court Justice Paul Coghlan on Wednesday jailed Singh for 22 years and ordered he serve 18 years and six months before he is eligible for parole.

The 48-year-old father of two, who has been in custody since his arrest at the scene, did not react as his sentence was read.

The families of the four officers sat in the packed court to watch the sentence after Singh pleaded guilty to four counts of culpable driving causing death, three of drug trafficking and other charges.

Senior Constable Kevin King (left), Constable Josh Prestney, Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor and Constable Glen Humphris were killed on the Eastern Freeway.

Justice Coghlan said footage of the crash showed the four officers had no hope. The footage also underlined the risks police routinely faced carrying out their duties.

“It is chilling. The police members had no hope,” the judge said.

He then told Singh, “Their deaths are entirely unnecessary and should have been avoided. Their deaths were caused by you.”

Singh was an ice user who, investigators estimate, had rested only five of the 72 hours before the crash and spent much of those three days dealing and using drugs with associates when not driving.

His plea hearing last month was told he appeared so drug-affected and tired to other users that they urged him to sleep. However, Singh’s habit was so relentless that at the start of his fatal drive he stopped at the side of the freeway to do a drug deal.

About 40 minutes after leaving his Lyndhurst depot, Singh’s driving alarmed other motorists as his truck veered across lanes on the freeway, and he made no attempt to brake as the truck moved into the emergency lane and caused carnage.

Prosecutors said Singh was so impaired by fatigue that a sleep expert likened the effect to a driver with a blood-alcohol reading of 0.3 – six times the legal limit.

One of the police cars being removed from the scene of the Eastern Freeway crash. Credit:Eddie Jim

Singh’s plea hearing was also told staff at Connect Logistics, the company that employed him to drive chicken produce across Melbourne, had concerns about his fitness to drive, as he was twice seen reversing into the wrong loading bay on the morning of April 22, and he had raised personal problems with colleagues.

But, his lawyer said last month, Singh was vulnerable to “sustained pressure” from his boss, Simiona Tuteru, to drive that afternoon, although the supervisor was unaware of the truckie’s drug use. Peter Morrissey, SC, has conceded Singh made the ultimate decision to drive.

Mr Tuteru is charged with four counts of manslaughter and police allege he knew Singh shouldn’t have been driving. Mr Tuteru is set to fight his charges at a hearing next month.

Singh was a believer in the supernatural, the court heard, who thought he was cursed by a “witch” named “Glenys” who wouldn’t get out of his passenger seat. Justice Coghlan said Singh claimed he saw ghosts and spirits in recent years, while his family reported a decline in his mental health.

Richard Pusey (right) when arrested last year.Credit:Nine News

A forensic psychiatrist found Singh was impulsive in decision-making, lacked insight into his drug use and tended to adopt supernatural reasoning over rational explanations. But although Singh was “actively psychotic” that day, he knew he shouldn’t have driven.

Justice Coghlan said the crash and its devastating impact would long be remembered by the community.

“There are events which shock the public consciousness. This has been such an event,” he said.

“The unnecessary loss of four serving police officers going about their duties is a matter of huge community sorrow and regret.”

Singh, who has past convictions for drink-driving, last month apologised to the officers’ families and was remorseful, the court heard.

Pusey is in custody as he awaits sentence on April 28 after pleading guilty to outraging public decency and other charges.

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