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Truck driver believed he was ‘cursed by witch’ before killing four cops in Melbourne crash

Truck driver believed he was 'cursed by witch' before killing four cops in Melbourne crash
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A truck driver who killed four police officers on a Melbourne freeway has been accused of lying about telling his boss he was cursed by a witch and too tired to drive, to get a more lenient sentence on appeal.

Mohinder Singh, who is in prison for driving his 19-tonne truck into four Victoria Police officers in 2020, gave evidence against ex-Connect Logistics manager, Simiona Tuteru, on Tuesday.

Tuteru faced a pre-sentence hearing after pleading guilty to a heavy vehicle offence in December.

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He was initially charged with manslaughter, for allegedly allowing Singh to get behind the wheel while fatigued, but those charges were dropped about six days before he was due to face trial.

In August 2022, Singh had his sentence reduced from 22 to 18-and-a-half years, after giving an undertaking to prosecutors that he would give evidence against Tuteru.

He was brought from prison to give evidence to the court on Tuesday, when he took to the witness stand wearing a grey prison tracksuit.

Mohinder Singh (left) was behind the wheel of a truck that killed senior constable Kevin King (top L-R), constable Joshua Prestney, (bottom L-R) leading senior constable Lynette Taylor and Constable Glen Humphris. Credit: AAP

On the morning of the April 22 crash, Singh said he finished work about 2am and told a supervisor he was “really tired, having problems at home and I was seeing things on the road”.

He said the supervisor, Steve Harrison, told him to go home, see a psychiatrist and get a letter before returning to work.

Later that afternoon, about 3.30pm, Singh returned to work and wanted to speak to Tuteru about how he had picked up a woman in his truck, whom he believed to be a witch.

He said Tuteru was a church pastor and believed he could help rid him of the witch’s curse.

“I hadn’t had any sleep, I was seeing things, I thought I was cursed by a witch, and I was traumatised from it,” Singh told the court.

Singh and Tuteru then searched the truck for items that “witches leave behind” like voodoo dolls and pieces of hair, before his boss performed a spell on him.

“He’s put his hand on my head … at the end he said ‘in Jesus’ name I cast a spell out of you’,” he said.

Singh, who had smoked ice before the deadly crash, claimed he told Tuteru twice he was too tired to drive and he had not slept the night before.

He said Tuteru told him “you’re right to go now” after the spell and asked him to drive one truckload.

Singh went on to crash his semi-trailer, killing leading senior constable Lynette Taylor, senior constable Kevin King and constables Josh Prestney and Glen Humphris, after 5pm that day.

However, Tuteru’s barrister David Hallowes SC accused Singh of fabricating his evidence to get a more lenient sentence in his appeal.

“You knew by making a statement against Mr Tuteru that that might help in your appeal?” Hallowes asked.

Singh said he was telling the truth about his conversation with Tuteru, but accepted his undertaking to give evidence had helped him reduce his sentence.

“My lawyer told me to co-operate with the police to the fullest, in whatever questions they may have,” he said.

Families of the four victims attended the court, with Prestney’s brother and father delivering emotional statements.

“The night we lost him, I felt like I wasn’t there for him and I couldn’t protect him,” Alex Prestney said.

“It’s February 2024 and we are still debating responsibility of how my brother and his colleagues were hit by a 20-tonne truck on the Eastern Freeway.”

The hearing before Justice James Elliott continues.

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