Mohinder Singh, who was high and severely sleep deprived when he ploughed his prime mover into four police officers on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway, has been jailed for 22 years.
- The Eastern Freeway crash was the single greatest loss of life in Victoria Police’s history
- Singh pleaded guilty to eight charges, including culpable driving causing death and drug trafficking
- Supreme Court Justice Paul Coghlan said the officers’ deaths were “entirely unnecessary and should have been avoided”
Singh, 48, was ordered to spend at least 18 years and six months behind bars over the crash in April last year, which killed Constables Glen Humphris and Joshua Prestney, Senior Constable Kevin King and Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor.
The crash was the single greatest loss of life in Victoria Police’s history and today’s sentence means an end to the tragic chapter is now in sight, just days from the one-year anniversary.
In sentencing the father of two, Justice Paul Coghlan told the Supreme Court of Victoria that the incident had profoundly changed the lives of four families.
“The police officers had no hope,” Justice Coghlan said.
“Their deaths are entirely unnecessary and should have been avoided. Their deaths were caused by you.”
Singh has already served 357 days behind bars.
After the sentence was handed down, Constable Prestney’s father, Andrew Prestney, read out a statement on behalf of the victims’ families, thanking the first responders and police for their work and the Australian public for its “outpouring of love”.
“Even though justice has now been served in relation to the actual collision, no amount of punishment can replace the loss of our loved ones and the missing place at our tables that will be felt by us for the rest of our lives,” he said.
“We are consoled by the fact that our four will not be forgotten as we continue to carry them in our hearts.”
Driver had little rest in days before crash
On April 22 last year, Leading Senior Constable Taylor and First Constable Humphris pulled over Melbourne man Richard Pusey for driving his Porsche at 149 kilometres per hour on the Eastern Freeway.
Two other officers — Senior Constable King and Constable Prestney — then arrived at the scene and were standing in an emergency lane when the truck, driven by Singh, veered into the lane, killing all four.
In the moments after the crash, Singh was heard wailing: “Oh no, oh no.”
He pleaded guilty to eight charges, including culpable driving causing death and drug trafficking.
It has since been revealed that Singh was seriously sleep deprived, with the court hearing that he could have only had five hours of rest in the three days before the collision.
He was also a prolific ice user, a habit which had made him actively psychotic at the time, causing him to see witches and believe in aliens.
His lawyer, Peter Morrissey SC, also told the Supreme Court that his client had allegedly received “significant pressure” from his boss, trucking manager Simiona Tuteru, to deliver one more load.
Mr Morrissey told the court that the men prayed together before Mr Tuteru allegedly said: “You are now healed, now take those chickens to Thomastown.”
Mr Tuteru has been charged with manslaughter over the crash but is planning to contest the allegations against him.
Singh has apologised to the families of the four police officers.
Justice Coghlan said the collision was burnt into the minds of many Victorians.
“There are events which shock the public conscience. This has been such an event,” the judge said.
“The unnecessary loss of the lives of four serving police officers, simply going about their duty, is a matter of huge community sorrow and regret.”
Justice Coghlan said he had watched the footage of the crash, which he described as “chilling”.
“It shows the inherent danger police officers face while going about relatively routine dangers,” he said.
“You drove to keep your job.
“That decision was selfish.”
The full statement read out by Andrew Prestney:
On behalf of the families and loved ones of Lynette, Kevin, Josh and Glenn, I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to those members of the public and first responders that were at the scene of the collision on the 22nd of April 2020, for the care and respect that was shown to our loved ones.
Even though we do not know them all, we share a history with them now and forever.
We would like to thank the members of the Major Collision Investigation Unit, especially Detective Sergeant Roz Wilson and the Paragon Taskforce for their dedication to the investigation and the respect and care that they have shown to us and our loved ones.
We also wish to thank all the emergency services and members of Victoria Police for their assistance through this time.
Even though justice has now been served in relation to the actual collision, no amount of punishment can replace the loss of our loved ones and the missing place at our tables that will be felt by us for the rest of our lives.
Finally, we would like to thank the people of Victoria, the people of Australia, and those from around the world for their outpouring of love and for embracing us with their hearts.
We are consoled by the fact that our four will not be forgotten as we continue to carry them in our hearts.