Saturday, 12 Jun 2021

Eastern Freeway truck driver insisted on one more load before crash, colleague tells court

The truck driver who killed four police officers on the Eastern Freeway told a colleague before the crash he had to do one more delivery before he went home, a court heard.

Truck driver Michael Horrocks, giving evidence in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday, said he told Mohinder Singh he should go home because he should not be driving.

Trucking company manager Simiona Tuteru, who has been charged in connection to the Eastern Freeway crash, walks into court on Tuesday.Credit:Simon Schluter

But Singh, Mr Horrocks said, told him the load needed to be done.

“It doesn’t matter if he had an important load to do,” Mr Horrocks said. “If he’s not right, he’s not right.”

Singh veered into an emergency lane on the Eastern Freeway and hit four police officers who were on the side of the road having pulled over speeding Porsche driver Richard Pusey just after 5.30pm on April 22 last year.

Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King, Constable Glen Humphris and Constable Josh Prestney were killed.

The police officers killed in the Eastern Freeway crash were (from left) Constable Josh Prestney, Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and Constable Glen Humphris.Credit:The Age

Simiona Tuteru, 49, a Connect Logistics supervisor, is facing more than 80 charges including manslaughter over alleged failures to manage Singh. Mr Tuteru faced his third day of a committal hearing on Wednesday to determine whether there is enough evidence to go to a trial.

Singh, sleep-deprived and on the drug ice, was found guilty of culpable driving causing death and was sentenced to a maximum 22 years in prison last month.

Mr Horrocks said under cross-examination by David Hallowes, SC, that he didn’t know whether his boss had insisted on Singh completing the load or Singh had decided the delivery was important.

A text message sent to a supervisor about an hour before the crash, which was tendered to the court on Tuesday, said Singh was doing a load to Thomastown and “he will let me know how he feels after”.

Truck driver Mohinder Singh, pictured outside court in March, was jailed for 22 years.Credit:Jason South

Singh’s daughter had told the court earlier this week that her father was worried he was going to be fired and insisted on going to work even though his behaviour was so bad she thought he was going to kill someone if he drove.

Mr Horrocks said Singh had been acting strangely. “He didn’t seem right to be operating anything, let alone a truck,” he said.

Kerry Haitana, an acting night shift supervisor for Ingham’s – for which Singh was delivering – said “alarm bells were ringing” due to Singh’s conduct on the shift before the crash.

Mr Haitana said Singh went to the wrong dock, which “set alarm bells straight away because Matt [Singh] was a regular driver that I had never before seen put the truck in the wrong dock”.

Singh said he had problems at home and was stressed out, Mr Haitana told the court on Wednesday.

Mr Haitana said he reported Singh’s behaviour to Stephen Harrison, a supervisor for Connect Logistics.

Mr Harrison, who reported to Mr Tuteru, said in his evidence on Tuesday that although he thought Singh needed some days off to rest, nothing about what happened during the shift the night before the crash raised serious concerns for him.

The case, prosecuted by Crown prosecutor Robyn Harper, continues before Magistrate Luisa Bazzani.

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