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Australia Eastern Freeway crash: Richard Pusey pleads guilty to outraging public decency

01:41  10 march  2021
01:41  10 march  2021 Source:   theage.com.au

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Porsche driver Richard Pusey has pleaded guilty to the rare charge of outraging public decency after filming a dying police officer moments after she and three colleagues were fatally hit by a truck on Melbourne's Eastern Freeway.

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Pusey indicated three weeks ago he would plead guilty but that hearing was the subject of a suppression order, which was revoked on Wednesday when the 42-year-old pleaded guilty in the County Court over his offending in Kew on April 22 last year.

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Pusey, who appeared via a video link from custody, also pleaded guilty to conduct endangering serious injury and possessing a drug of dependence. A speeding charge will also be added to the case against him.

The outraging public decency charge relates to him using his mobile phone to film Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor while she was critically injured.

Leading Senior Constable Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney were all hit and killed by a truck driven by Mohinder Singh. Singh has pleaded guilty to four counts of culpable driving causing death and is due to face a plea hearing on Thursday.

Pusey, who remains in custody on unrelated charges, is due to face court for a plea hearing on March 31.

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In the video Pusey filmed he is heard to say: "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."

He also says: "Look at that, man. You c---s, you f---ing c---s. I guess I'll be getting an Uber home." He was also heard to scoff at seeing a destroyed police car.

Police pulled Pusey over for speeding at 149km/h and were preparing to arrest him and impound his Porsche when the officers were hit by Singh's truck at 5.36pm. Pusey later told investigators he was lucky to be "off having a p**s" at the side of the road.

The mortgage broker was committed to stand trial in October when his lawyers and prosecutors were at odds over whether he would plead guilty to outraging public decency, an offence his lawyers argued was unusual and unrecognisable in Victoria.

The parties remained at an impasse until February 15, when defence counsel Dermot Dann, QC, said he and Pusey had concluded the only way to resolve the matter was for him to plead guilty to prevent the case dragging "through the courts for years". Prosecutors had refused to yield on Pusey pleading guilty to an alternate, lesser charge of offensive behaviour, which carries a maximum penalty of two months in jail.

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Judge Trevor Wraight said on February 15 the guilty plea was "very sensible" as there was a risk the case could be before the courts for years had the charge gone to trial. Victoria's courts face large backlogs due to the impact of the coronavirus.

Pusey was set to plead guilty last week but his arraignment was adjourned so he could have more time to look and listen to the evidence against him.

Judge Wraight has indicated that under the wording of the charge it would be unlikely the police officers' families could make victim impact statements. They can at Singh's plea hearing.

In hearings in February, the judge described Pusey's behaviour as "reprehensible" but acknowledged he would have been shocked by what he saw and didn't post the footage on social media, although he sent it to others.

Another man filmed the aftermath, the court heard, and posted his recording on social media including his comment, "The coppers are dead." That man wasn't charged and stayed to assist whereas Pusey left the scene.

Prosecutors insisted the outraging public decency charge was valid but admitted it was rarely used. The only other reported case they cited was from 2007, when Anthony Anderson in England was jailed for three years for urinating on a dying disabled woman who fell in the street. One of Anderson's friends filmed the incident and no one called an ambulance.

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The Office of Public Prosecutions and the Law Institute of Victoria have also confirmed the charge is rare, and the only known cases occurred overseas. There is no maximum penalty, which means Pusey's punishment will be up to the discretion of the sentencing judge.

Mr Dann will argue at Pusey's plea hearing his admissions should attract a significant sentencing discount and Judge Wraight said there was great assistance in him pleading guilty rather than fighting the contentious charge at trial.

The judge suppressed the February hearings so he and the lawyers could freely discuss the case without their comments being reported by media.

Pusey was granted bail when committed to trial but is now back in custody after allegedly putting a noose around a woman's neck and threatening her on December 27.

Melbourne Magistrates Court was told on Tuesday he wanted to resolve those charges. He is due to appear again before a magistrate next month.

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