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Truckie gets 22 years for killing four Victorian police

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The families of four police officers killed by truck driver Mohinder Singh on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway say “justice has been served” after he was jailed for 22 years, but it will never ease their grief.

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Singh was short on sleep and high on drugs when he crashed a 19-tonne semi-trailer into the officers, who had pulled over Porsche driver Richard Pusey in April last year.

Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King, and constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney died at the scene.

The 48-year-old was jailed in Victoria’s Supreme Court on Wednesday for 22 years, with a 18-year and six-month non-parole period.

Justice Paul Coghlan said the crash had “shocked the public conscience”.

He described footage of the incident as chilling and said the officers stood no hope of survival.

“The grief of those close to the victims is profound and life-changing,” he told the court.

“Such grief is heightened by the sudden and unnecessary nature of the deaths. We can only hope … as time goes by, some amelioration of their suffering can come about.”

Const Prestney’s father read out a statement on behalf of the families of the four officers outside court.

Flanked by his wife Belinda and son Alex, Andrew Prestney thanked the first responders and members of the public at the scene for the “care and respect that was shown to our loved ones”.

“We share a history with them now and forever,” he said.

“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.”

Prestney also thanked the broader community for its “outpouring of love”.

“We are consoled by the fact that our four will not be forgotten as we continue to carry them in our hearts,” he said.

Singh had been using and trafficking drugs in the lead-up to the crash, and was “talking nonsense” about being chased by witches earlier that day.

Investigators estimated he slept for only five hours in the 72 hours preceding the crash, while a sleep expert said the truck driver’s fatigue would equate to a blood alcohol reading of 0.3 – six times the legal limit.

Singh’s lawyer, Peter Morrissey SC, said he felt pressured to drive despite raising concerns about fatigue with his supervisor, Simiona Tuteru, who has been charged with manslaughter and remains before the courts.

Justice Coghlan accepted Singh was reluctant to drive but said he still made the “selfish” decision to get behind the wheel.

“You were simply unfit to do the job and had little, if any, legitimate claim to keep your position as a truck driver,” he said.

Singh pleaded guilty to four counts of culpable driving causing death, three charges of drug trafficking and one of possessing drugs.

Const King’s widow, Sharron MacKenzie, previously told the court her life had been reduced to an “ocean of tears and sleepless nights”.

“I still feel the devastation and absolute heartbreak when I told my children their father and hero would not be coming home,” she said.

“For the first time in my life I understood the feeling of choking pain – deep and utter despair.”

Sen Const Taylor’s husband, Stuart Schulze, said he would never forget the “dreadful spectre” of three officers at his door that day.

Const Humphris’ partner, Todd Robinson, said Singh took away the most important person in his life.

It is the worst loss of life from a single event in Victoria Police history.

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