An Indian-origin drug-affected and sleep-deprived truck driver was jailed on Wednesday in Australia for 22 years over charges of ploughing his heavy vehicle into Australian police officers and killing four of them last year on Melbourne's Eastern Freeway, according to media reports.
48-year-old Mohinder Singh was sentenced in Victoria's Supreme Court after pleading guilty to four counts of culpable driving causing death, three charges of trafficking a drug of dependence, and one charge of possession of a drug of dependence.
Singh was fatigued and drug-affected. He stopped on his route to do a drug deal, before veering into the emergency lane of the freeway in Kew and ploughing his 19-tonne prime mover into officers and their stationary vehicles on April 22 last year, The Age newspaper reported.
Constable Lynette Taylor, senior constable Kevin King and constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney died at the scene, The Guardian reported.
Singh was jailed for 22 years, with a non-parole period of 18 year and six months, the report said.
Justice Paul Coghlan said the crash had “shocked the public conscience” and described footage of the incident as chilling.
“The grief of those close to the victims is profound and life-changing,” Coghlan 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.”
He was "actively psychotic" as he claimed he had seen a witch before killing the officers in the crash.
The officers had pulled over Porsche driver Richard Pusey for allegedly speeding at the time. Multiple CCTV cameras showed footage of Singh "repeatedly drifting" into the emergency lane of the freeway before the crash, 9news.com reported.
Singh's reckless driving was observed by other motorists, with one witness saying: "He's going to...kill someone."
Singh was an ice user who, investigators estimate, had rested only five of the 72 hours before the crash and spent much of those three days dealing and using drugs with associates when not driving, The Age reported.
The heartbroken families of the four fallen police officers say "no amount of punishment" can ease the grief they feel over losing their loved ones, it said.
Assistant Commissioner Glenn Weir said police would commemorate the anniversary in services next week and one later this year that would be open to the public given the “overwhelming” support shown to the force from the community.
The tragedy, he said, was a reminder of the daily risks police faced performing their duties. “That’s not lost on us,” he said.
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