A truckie who killed four police officers in a horror crash has told a court his former boss urged him to drive despite fears he’d been “cursed by a witch”.
Mohinder Singh was called to give evidence at a pre-sentence hearing for Simiona Tuteru in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Singh is serving an 18 year and six month sentence for culpable driving causing the death of Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King, First Constable Glen Humphris and Constable Josh Prestney.
Tuteru, his former boss at Connect Logistics, has pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to comply with a safety duty under the Heavy Vehicle National Law that exposed individuals to risk of death or serious injury.
The Eastern Freeway crash, which occurred on April 22, 2020, was the single greatest loss of life in Victoria Police’s history.
Singh told the court he was sent home the day before the crash after complaining to a different supervisor, Steve Harrison, he hadn’t been sleeping and was tired.
The following day, he said he asked to come in and speak with Tuteru.
“I wanted to see Simon about it because I knew he was a pastor at a church,” he said.
“I hadn’t had any sleep, I was seeing things … I thought I had been cursed by a witch.”
Singh said he drove in at 3.30pm telling Tuteru he was fatigued and believed a female hitchhiker he’d previously picked up had placed a curse on him.
He claimed Tuteru searched his car for about 10 minutes before blessing him because “witches leave things behind like voodoo dolls or hair”.
“I can’t remember all the words. In the end he said I cast the spell out of you,” Singh said.
“After that he basically said you’re right now … I just needed you to do one load and see how you feel after that.”
The sleep-deprived man claimed he did not want to drive but was concerned about losing his job.
“I didn’t tell him I didn’t want to drive because he’s the boss, I suppose,” he said.
“I should have told him.”
The court was told Singh had very limited sleep in the days preceding the crash and had been taking a “considerable” amount of drugs, including methamphetamine.
After cross-examination from Tuteru’s barrister, David Hallowes SC, Singh agreed his memory had been impacted in the days surrounding the crash by drug use and fatigue.
But he maintained his memory of approaching Tuteru and telling him he was fatigued and “didn’t want to drive” was clear.
“I remember everything about it … it sticks out in my mind,” he said.
“I still relive the whole thing in my head every day. I can’t get rid of it.”
Mr Hallowes suggested Singh was attempting to “lessen your blame” by shifting responsibility to Tuteru – which Singh flatly denied.
“There’s no reason for me to lie, I’ve already been sentenced,” he said.
“I made that statement because my lawyer told me to co-operate with police to the fullest.”
The four officers were killed when Singh fell asleep at the wheel and collided with two police cars and a Porsche at Kew.
The officers had pulled over Richard Pusey for driving his Porsche at 149km/h and were standing in an emergency lane when Singh’s truck crashed.
Pusey, who escaped being struck because he was urinating off the road, was later jailed for 10 months after filming the dying officers.
The hearing, before Justice James Elliot, continues.