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court reporter Danny Tran

Truck driver who killed four police officers on Melbourne's Eastern Freeway appeals sentence

Mohinder Singh is appealing his 22-year jail sentence. (AAP: Luis Ascui, file photo)

A truck driver who was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison after ploughing his prime mover into four police officers on a Melbourne freeway has launched an appeal, telling Victoria's highest court he has been treated too harshly.

Mohinder Singh, 49, was ordered to spend 22 years behind bars over the deaths of Constables Glen Humphris and Joshua Prestney, Senior Constable Kevin King and Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor on the Eastern Freeway.

In April 2020, Leading Senior Constable Taylor and First Constable Humphris pulled over Melbourne man Richard Pusey for driving his Porsche at 149 kilometres per hour on the Eastern Freeway.

Two other officers – Senior Constable King and Constable Prestney – then arrived at the scene and were standing in an emergency lane when the truck, driven by Singh, veered into the lane, killing all four.

In the moments after the crash, Singh was heard wailing: "Oh no, oh no."

The crash was the single greatest loss of life in Victoria Police's history.

It was later uncovered that Singh was seriously sleep deprived and only had five hours of rest in the three days before the collision.

He was also a prolific ice user, a habit that had made him actively psychotic at the time, causing him to see witches and believe in aliens.

But on Monday, less than 18 months after being jailed, Singh appeared in the Court of Appeal and urged three justices to reduce his sentence.

The main grounds of the appeal cannot be reported for legal reasons.

Defence argues Singh was in 'pitiable' condition before the crash

Singh's lawyer, Peter Morrissey SC, told Justices Karin Emerton, Emilios Kyrou and Terry Forrest that his client was "frail and fragile psychologically" when he got behind the wheel.

"His decision to drive arose in a most unusual setting where he, no doubt because of drug ingestion and because of that psychosis, was in a remarkably frail state," Mr Morrissey said.

"He was beset with the idea that he was supernaturally haunted by witches."

But Justice Kyrou pushed the defence lawyer on this point.

"The collision wasn't caused because he saw a witch, it was because he feel asleep, because he hadn't slept, he was sleep deprived," Justice Kyrou said.

"But also because he couldn't control the car, and that was because of his drug taking."

Mr Morrissey conceded "all of that is true".

Singh, a father of two, was jailed for 12 years for each police officer he killed, but was ordered to serve some of those jail terms at the same time as others, as opposed to back-to-back.

Mr Morrissey told the court that his client's sentences for culpable driving were "extremely stern".

He also said Singh was in a "pitiable state".

"His pitiable state didn't stop him from doing a drug deal on the way to work," Justice Forrest said.

Mr Morrissey said: "We agree that that diminishes the force of what we're putting, but it's a subtraction, it's a minor subtraction."

Victim's father says appeal 'difficult' to hear

But Brendan Kissane QC, who is Victoria's Chief Crown Prosecutor, said Singh's sentences were appropriate.

"He got into the truck and signed a fitness-to-drive certificate," Mr Kissane said.

"He stopped to supply an associate with methylamphetamine on the side of the road … before driving towards Thomastown.

"The decision to drive was ultimately that of the applicant and there is no external circumstance."

He urged the court to knock back the appeal.

"There was no specific error and the sentence was not manifestly excessive," Mr Kissane said.

Constable Joshua Prestney was just 28 when he was killed while on duty. (Supplied: Victoria Police)

Constable Prestney's father, Andrew, said it was an emotional day.

"It's difficult to listen to, the reasons why there should be a reduction in sentence," he said.

"Kevin should be taking his sons to the footy to see the Tigers, Lynette should be on her boat with Stuart, and Glen and Todd should be living a wonderful life, but for the actions of a driver that knowingly and willingly took drugs, and was sleep deprived and made that decision consciously.

"We firmly believe that Justice Coghlan's findings and his sentence were sound in this first place."

The court has reserved its decision.

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