Singh had five hours’ sleep in the three days before the crash and spent much of that time dealing drugs and using them with associates. Prosecutors say the combination of fatigue and drug use impaired his ability to drive.
On day two of Singh’s plea hearing on Friday, defence counsel Peter Morrissey, SC, said the 48-year-old accepted he chose to drive that day, but was prepared to give evidence against Mr Tuteru, who police allege knew the truck driver shouldn’t have been working.
Mr Tuteru is charged with four counts of manslaughter and is due to face court in May. His lawyer has said he would fight the charges.
In a text message exchange on the morning of April 22, Singh raised concerns he was not fit to drive with Mr Tuteru, and the two men spoke at the Lyndhurst depot that afternoon. Other staff at Connect Logistics had previously raised concerns over Singh’s fitness to drive.
Mr Morrissey said during Singh’s discussion with his boss, the truck driver faced “sustained pressure” to drive, was “vulnerable to influence” given his mental state and personality type and was concerned at being sacked as he was on a six-month probation with the company.
“The boss leaned on him to drive but true it is, he [Singh] didn’t disclose he was on drugs,” Mr Morrissey said.
Justice Paul Coghlan questioned whether Mr Tuteru knew of Singh’s drug use, and said although he understood there was pressure applied, the crash happened at the start of Singh’s shift.
“The boss who encouraged him to drive did so with one hand tied behind his back,” Justice Coghlan said.
The judge at one point asked if Singh was “blaming someone else” for his crimes. Mr Morrissey said he didn’t want to direct guilt toward Mr Tuteru.
Mr Morrissey said Singh – who has pleaded guilty to four counts of culpable driving causing death, three of drug trafficking and other charges – was ultimately the one responsible for the officers’ deaths and his culpability was high.
“He chose to drive,” he said of Singh.
Mr Morrissey began his address by apologising on Singh’s behalf to the officers’ families for his actions.
Singh, his barrister said, told investigators after the crash he felt sorry for the police and their families, and admitted he shouldn’t have driven.
“It was a big accident,” he had told police.
“They (the families) are probably waiting for them to come home. Imagine it was my kids or your kids. Oh God.”
Singh remains in custody and is to be sentenced on April 14.
Pusey on Wednesday pleaded guilty to outraging public decency and other charges for filming Leading Senior Constable Taylor while she was critically injured. He remains in custody awaiting a plea hearing on March 31.
More to come
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Adam Cooper joined The Age in 2011 after a decade with AAP. Email or tweet Adam with your news tips.