Investigators were hopeful on Friday night of getting medical clearance to interview driver Mohinder Singh Bajwa, 47, who has been at Royal Melbourne Hospital under police guard since suffering a medical episode immediately after the collision.
Mr Pusey appeared dishevelled as he faced court charged with numerous offences, including driving at dangerous speed, reckless conduct endangering life and failing to render assistance.
The court heard that after the crash Mr Pusey walked up to Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor as she was pinned to the truck and was heard on body-cam footage saying: “There you go, amazing, absolutely amazing. All I wanted to do was go home and have some sushi and now you f—ed my f—ing car.”
Mr Pusey’s alleged actions were condemned on Friday afternoon by Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt. “This week four police heroes died and one coward lived,” he said.
Police Commissioner Graham Ashton described Mr Pusey’s alleged actions as evil.
“Sometimes events occur when you’re reminded that evil walks among us. This has been one of those days,” Mr Ashton said.
Police Minister Lisa Neville also spoke about the allegations, saying she hoped the victims’ families would not hear what was raised in court. “Completely sickening and disgusting,” she said.
In a packed courtroom on Friday, homicide squad detective Aaron Price became emotional at times as he described the events of Wednesday night’s crash.
Mr Pusey was pulled over on Wednesday afternoon for allegedly travelling at 149km/h on the freeway and allegedly tested positive to ice and cannabis.
He was walking over to urinate on the side of the freeway when a prime mover veered into the emergency lane and hit the four officers.
New recruits Constable Josh Prestney and Constable Glen Humphris were killed alongside senior colleagues Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor and Senior Constable Kevin King.
Senior Detective Price told the court that Senior Constable Taylor’s body-worn camera continued recording and captured the aftermath of the collision.
Mr Pusey later told police he heard “just bang” and looked around to see “my car being pushed with the truck on top of it”.
As multiple passersby got out of their cars to help, Mr Pusey then allegedly took two iPhones from his car and walked around the scene using a phone to record videos.
The body-cam footage captured Mr Pusey walking up to Senior Constable Taylor as she was pinned to the truck. She can be heard groaning before Mr Pusey allegedly taunted her. A pathologist has told police it was likely Senior Constable Taylor was still alive at that point.
The body-cam footage also captured a passerby telling Mr Pusey to leave the scene as he is filming. He responded: “That’s my f—ing car, mate.”
Mr Pusey asked someone for a lift to Fitzroy and was dropped on the corner of Alexandra Parade and Smith Street, the court heard.
Police said he then called his wife and told her what he had seen.
Later that night, he allegedly called a federal police officer he knew, told her about the crash and sent her a video, and also sent pictures of the crime scene to a friend, joking that he was hoping to get out of the fine.
He called the Fitzroy Police Station between 10pm and 11pm on Wednesday, and was asked to come to the station but allegedly said “he just couldn’t” and went to bed.
Mr Pusey attended Melbourne West Police Station in Spencer Street with his lawyer about 9.40am on Thursday, bringing with him a mobile phone which he told police was the device he used at the scene.
“Inquiries revealed he had in fact intentionally given police the wrong phone, which had been restored to factory settings,” Senior Detective Price told the court.
A search warrant was conducted at Mr Pusey’s home on Thursday afternoon and an iPhone 11, which police believe he used to film the scene, was discovered. Police also seized a small quantity of the drug ice.
Mr Pusey remained expressionless during the court hearing, at times bowing his head and looking at his lap.
He is also charged with failing to remain after a drug test, destruction of evidence and three counts of committing an indictable offence while on bail. He will next face court on July 16.
On Friday afternoon, Todd Robinson, the devastated partner of Constable Glen Humphris spoke of his pain, his “soulmate’s” love for policing and of the “adventurous” life they had built together.
Mr Robinson said senior police officers knocked on his door on Wednesday night to inform him of his partner’s death while he was cooking dinner for Constable Humphris, who grew up on the NSW Central Coast.
“My soulmate has gone” he said. “He is gone and I’m still coming to terms with that. That door is not going to open and he’s not going to bumble in, say ‘hello’ to me and grab the dog, and me and him go off for a walk.”
Police have results from the drug and alcohol tests conducted on Cranbourne truck driver Mr Singh Bajwa, but have not released them as they wait to interview him. Police have not described the nature of his medical condition, but have said it was not a result of the accident.
Commissioner Ashton said: “We will get some further information available to the detectives later today on the crash reconstruction stuff so these vehicles these days, with all the GPS and everything else, there’s a lot of data held and … they’ll have quite a good reconstruction.”
“The mere fact that he is in hospital and we have been unable to get to him doesn’t mean that they have had to sit idle. They’ve been able to actually do a lot of work on reconstruction prior to him being available for interview.”
Commissioner Ashton and Deputy Commissioner Patton have both dismissed reports of the truck driver being pulled over earlier in the day as rumour.
Four small funerals for the fallen police officers killed in the Eastern Freeway tragedy will take place in coming weeks before a larger public memorial service with full police honours is held as soon as possible after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Mr Ashton said they had received an “outpouring of support” for the policing community on online tribute pages.
With Rachel Eddie
In the line of duty
At least 170 Victoria Police officers have died on duty or as a result of their duties. Notable tragedies for the force include:
- December 30, 1837. The first recorded Victorian police officer to be killed in the line of duty was Constable Matthew Tomkin, who was shot by escaped convict George Comerford in Melbourne.
- October 26, 1878. Sergeant Michael Kennedy and Constables Thomas Lonigan and Michael Scanlan were shot and killed by the Kelly gang in an ambush at Stringybark Creek in the Wombat Ranges.
- March 27, 1986. Constable Angela Taylor was the first Australian female officer to die on duty after she was killed in the bombing of the Russell Street police headquarters.
- October 12, 1988. Constables Damien Eyre and Steven Tynan were ambushed and shot by offenders who had deliberately lured police to an abandoned car in Walsh Street, South Yarra.
- August 16, 1998. Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller shot in Moorabbin while investigating a series of armed robberies.
- May 20, 2000. Senior constables Mark Anthony Bateman and Fiona Frances Robinson died when their divvy van crashed while responding to reports of a holdup in Northcote.
- April 22, 2020. Senior Constables Lynette Taylor and Kevin King and Constables Josh Prestney and Glen Humphris killed when they were hit by a truck on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway after pulling over an allegedly speeding Porsche driver.
Simone is a crime reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Age, and before that for The Australian in Melbourne.
John Silvester is a Walkley-award winning crime writer and columnist. A co-author of the best-selling books that formed the basis of the hit Australian TV series Underbelly, Silvester is also a regular guest on 3AW with his “Sly of the Underworld” segment.