Families share their grief after Eastern Freeway truck driver Mohinder Singh sentenced to 22 years in jail
The families of four Victoria Police officers killed on Melbourne's Eastern Freeway have spoken after the truck driver responsible was sentenced to 22 years in jail.
Mohinder Singh, 48, was sentenced in Victoria's Supreme Court this morning 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.
He must serve at least 18 years and six months behind bars before he is eligible for parole.
The Cranbourne father was high on drugs and had earlier stopped on his route to do a drug deal when he veered into the emergency lane of the freeway in Kew and ploughed into the officers on April 22 last year.
Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney all died in what is the deadliest incident in Victoria Police history.
The officers had pulled over Porsche driver Richard Pusey for allegedly speeding in the moments before the crash.
Multiple CCTV cameras showed footage of Singh "repeatedly drifting" into the emergency lane of the freeway before the crash.
Singh's reckless driving was observed by other motorists, with one witness saying: "He's going to f------ kill someone."
Justice Paul Coghlan described the footage of the horror crash as "chilling" during the sentencing.
"I have viewed the footage on a number of occasions - it is chilling," he said.
"The police officers had no hope.
"Their deaths are entirely unnecessary and should have been avoided. Their deaths were caused by you."
The court heard Singh was high on ice while behind the wheel of his prime mover and had just five hours of rest in the 70 hours before the deadly crash.
He was "actively psychotic" and claimed he had seen a witch before the crash.
The court heard he was preoccupied with "delusional beliefs" that he had been "cursed" by a witch, also claiming to see "stick figures" on the morning of the tragedy.
However, he drove to work out of fear he would lose his job if he did not turn up.
Justice Coghlan said Singh was "selfish" for getting behind the wheel when he was clearly "unfit" to drive.
"It has been put that the threat to you was that you might lose your job," he said.
"You were simply unfit to do the job and had little, if any, legitimate claim to keep your position as a truck driver.
"In the sense that you drove to keep your job - that decision was selfish."
Justice Coghlan told the court the truck driver had claimed to see ghosts and UFOs when he was younger.
The court heard Singh "did not react" to the crash until after it occurred, later pressing the brake pedal out of "panic".
The grieving families of the four fallen officers watched on in anguish as the driver's sentence was handed down.
Singh remained silent throughout the hearing and was led out of the courtroom directly in front of the victims' families.
Today will not mark the end of the court proceedings as in two weeks' time, Pusey is due to be sentenced in court for filming the dying officers.
Justice Coghlan said the "unnecessary loss of lives" of the police officers was a matter of "huge community sorrow and regret".
"There are events which shock the public consciousness," he said.
"This has been such an event."
Police Association Secretary Wayne Gatt said the four slain officers died looking after others.
"Our mates died protecting the community from the very things that ultimately took their lives," he said.
'No amount of punishment can replace our loss'
The heartbroken families of the four officers say "no amount of punishment" can ease the grief they feel over losing their loved ones.
Andrew Prestney, the father of Constable Josh Prestney, read out a statement outside court following the sentencing.
Mr Prestney said despite justice being served for the officers' deaths, it did not subside their pain.
"Even though justice has now been served in relation to the actual collision, no amount of punishment can replace the loss of our loved ones and the missing place at our tables that will be felt by us for the rest of our lives," he said.
"We would like to thank the people of Victoria, the people of Australia, and those from around the world for their outpouring of love and for embracing us with their hearts.
"We are consoled by the fact that our four will not be forgotten as we continue to carry them in our hearts."
Mr Prestney also thanked those who were first at the scene.
"On behalf of the families and loved ones of Lynette, Kevin, Josh and Glenn, I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to those members of the public and first responders that were at the scene of the collision on the 22nd of April 2020, for the care and respect that was shown to our loved ones," he said.
"Even though we do not know them all, we share a history with them now and forever.
"We would like to thank the members of the Major Collision Investigation Unit, especially Detective Sergeant Roz Wilson and the Paragon Taskforce for their dedication to the investigation and the respect and care that they have shown to us and our loved ones.
"We also wish to thank all the emergency services and members of Victoria Police for their assistance through this time."