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‘I was on drugs’: Truckie turns on execs after crash kills four police officers

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Sydney trucking company chiefs never questioned why their driver’s timesheets were filled with errors, impossible hours and incorrect rest breaks before he fatally ran down four police officers outside Melbourne, a court has heard.

The driver, Mohinder Singh, on Friday gave evidence against his former employer and confessed he was “on drugs” before his semi-trailer ran off the road on April 22, 2020, and killed the officers.

Mohinder Singh outside the Melbourne Supreme Court in April 2021.Credit: Jason South

Sydney’s Connect Logistics has pleaded guilty to recklessly exposing people to serious injury or death – the most serious offence of its kind.

Two executives, Corey Matthews and Shane Chalmers, pleaded guilty to one count each of failing in their lawful duties as executives.

Connect’s national operations manager, Cris Large, is fighting four charges, including recklessly exposing people to the risk of injury or death, in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court.

Singh, who was behind the wheel of a Connect 20-tonne rig, dialled in from Melbourne’s metropolitan remand prison on Friday to give evidence for prosecutors.

“What physical state were you in during the shift [on April 21, 2020]?” National Heavy Vehicle Regulator prosecutor, Jennifer Single, SC, asked him.

“Not good … I was sleepy, and I was on drugs,” Singh replied.

Singh told the court, under cross-examination by Large’s barrister, he had memory loss even while talking to police immediately after the crash “because I was on drugs”.

Much of the cases against Connect and its executives have turned on allegations they did not properly manage driver fatigue, which put people at risk.

The scene of the crash on the Eastern Freeway, Kew, in Victoria, which claimed the life of four police officers.Credit: Simon Schluter

Connect records, particularly driver timesheets, are key to the case against Large, the court has heard.

Prosecutors took Singh through his timesheets leading up to the crash.

The court heard Singh recorded a rest break at 9.20pm at Lyndhurst the night before the crash. But he also wrote, on the same sheet, that he had left Lyndhurst at 9pm.

Singh could not explain the numerous similar errors throughout his timesheets. He said no one from Connect, including his supervisor, ever asked him about his timesheets.

Senior Constable Kevin King (left), Constable Josh Prestney, Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor and Constable Glen Humphris were killed on the Eastern Freeway in 2020.Credit: Victoria Police

“We never talked about rest breaks,” Singh told the court.

Last week, the court heard Singh’s supervisors concluded he was not fit to drive and should see a doctor before the crash.

“He went in and had a meeting with the Melbourne supervisor and, following which, got behind the wheel of the truck. An hour after that the accident occurred,” Single told the court.

Singh is serving more than 18 years in prison for culpable driving causing the deaths of Leading Senior Constable Lynnette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney.

He also pleaded guilty to drug offences. The Victorian courts heard he was on methamphetamine and had had just five hours’ sleep before the crash.

Singh had been hallucinating before the crash because of his drug problem, the courts also heard.

He was given a four-year discount on his sentence, on appeal, for pledging to help prosecutors in the cases against Connect and its executives.

Under cross-examination, on Friday, Singh told the court he was told by his lawyers to do whatever prosecutors asked. He was unrepresented in court.

Large, if convicted of the most serious charge against him, faces a maximum $3 million fine, five years’ prison or both.

Connect Logistics and executives Matthews and Chalmers are expected to be sentenced later this year.

Connect is facing a maximum $3 million fine, the largest possible in the NSW Local Courts.

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