Prosecution of freeway crash trucking boss 'oppressive'
A trucking boss charged over the deaths of four Victoria Police officers in a horror freeway crash has had his case put permanently on hold because of "oppressive" misuse of court processes by the state's prosecutors.
Justice Lex Lasry blasted Victoria's top prosecutor, Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd SC, for her indifference and lack of respect in refusing to provide the court with an explanation for repeated issues in the case.
Simiona Tuteru was charged with manslaughter and breaches of heavy vehicle laws in August 2020 over the deaths of Senior Constables Lynette Taylor and Kevin King, and Constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney in April that year.
It was alleged Mr Tuteru, the manager of Connect Logistics, allowed driver Mohinder Singh to get behind the wheel while fatigued and under the influence of drugs.
Prosecutors had been asked in October last year to explain exactly how they intended to prove manslaughter charges against Mr Tuteru.
Six days later those charges were dropped and Justice Lasry was told he would get no explanation as to why.
He said there had never been a viable case of manslaughter against Mr Tuteru and that realisation obviously dawned on the prosecution.
"There can be no other reason why this course was taken," he said.
He labelled Ms Judd's decision not to outline reasons as showing indifference and lack of respect.
"In my opinion the court's processes have been used oppressively and unfairly by the DPP at various stages of this case," he said.
Justice Lasry described it as a woeful state of affairs. He said a permanent stay was a rare and exceptional order, but nothing short of that could remedy this case.
Mr Tuteru's barrister, David Hallowes SC, had argued the prosecution had been a constantly evolving, moveable feast.
Nearly three years since the incident he still hadn't been informed of the nature and substance of the criminal charges he was facing.
The latest version of the indictment - a single charge - was filed on February 10 this year.
Mr Hallowes argued the handling of Mr Tuteru's case brought the criminal justice system into disrepute and breached Mr Tuteru's human rights, including the right to a fair trial and to be tried without unreasonable delay.
Crown prosecutor Matt Fisher, who was brought on after the manslaughter charges were dropped, had argued a permanent stay application shouldn't be brought to deal with cases where a party had struggled to comply with case management procedures.
Members of the officers' families said they were disappointed and bewildered by the outcome.
"We'll certainly be encouraging the prosecutor to appeal the decision," Andrew Prestney said.
"Talking about human rights - fair dinkum. My son's right to be human ended on the 22nd of April 2020."