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Emily Woods

Ex-trucking boss admits to 'reckless' freeway charge

Ex-trucking firm manager Simiona Tuteru (left) has pleaded guilty to violating heavy vehicle laws. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

An ex-trucking boss has admitted to violating his duty of safety by exposing four Victorian police officers to risk of death or injury by allowing a drug-affected and fatigued driver behind the wheel.

Simiona Tuteru, 52, was initially charged with manslaughter over the deadly Eastern Freeway crash, after he allowed truck driver Mohinder Singh on the road while working as a manager.

Victoria Police officers Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and constables Josh Prestney and Glen Humphris were killed in the crash, on April 22, 2020.

Prosecutors dropped the manslaughter charges in favour of heavy vehicle offences six days before Tuteru was due to face trial.

In another twist, Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry put a permanent hold on the new charges earlier this year, after he claimed the court process had been used oppressively by prosecutors.

The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the judge's decision and Justice Lasry's order was overturned, allowing the charges against Tuteru to proceed.

Tuteru faced the Supreme Court in Melbourne on Wednesday on the heavy vehicle offences.

He was charged with "being a person who had a safety duty" under Victorian heavy vehicle laws and, "without reasonable excuse" engaged in conduct that exposed the four police officers and Singh to "a risk of death or serious injury and the accused was reckless as to that risk", the court was told.

Tuteru stood in the court dock and when asked how he pleaded, he replied "guilty".

Formerly a manager of Connect Logistics, Tuteru is currently working as a maintenance repairman, the court was told.

He remains on bail and will face a pre-sentence hearing in February.

Singh is currently serving an 18-year sentence for crashing his 19-tonne semi-trailer into the four officers, with a minimum term of 14 years and six months.

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