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Emily Woods

Truckie boss manslaughter charges dropped

Manslaughter charges have been withdrawn against Simiona Tuteru. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Prosecutors have dropped manslaughter charges against a trucking boss they previously alleged allowed Mohinder Singh to get behind the wheel before he killed four Victoria Police officers.

Connect Logistics manager Simiona Tuteru, 51, was due to stand trial this week in Victoria's Supreme Court after being charged with four counts of manslaughter over the April 2020 collision.

Singh was high on drugs and sleep deprived when his prime-mover ploughed into the officers on Melbourne's Eastern Freeway.

Prosecutors previously alleged Tuteru had permitted Singh to drive the truck, despite claims he was too tired. Tuteru pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and a trial was due to begin on October 25.

However, in a brief hearing in Melbourne on Friday, prosecutors told the court they would no longer pursue the manslaughter charges. Tuteru will instead face four heavy vehicle charges.

"Is the court and the public to be favoured with an explanation as to how this has occurred?" Justice Lex Lasry asked.

"I don't propose to go into the reasons why. Your Honour, a discontinuance has been entered now," prosecutor Robyn Harper replied.

Justice Lasry further questioned Ms Harper about the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision, asking if the Crown had "finally worked out they don't have a case".

"I wouldn't say that's right, Your Honour," she said.

Justice Lasry said the lack of explanation was "most unsatisfactory" given the time wasted in preparing for trial.

Tuteru's barrister David Hallowes SC said he was disappointed it had taken the Crown so long to reach their position, given their weak manslaughter case.

"Fundamentally the case hasn't changed from when Mr Tuteru was first charged, and as Your Honour indicates, there's been not only a great deal of time, but a great deal of effort put in to preparing the case," he said, "so it is disappointing."

Justice Lasry said there may be an issue as to whether the heavy vehicle charges should instead be heard in the County Court.

The matter was adjourned for a further mention on December 5, where a trial date will be fixed for next year.

Singh was last year jailed for up to 22 years after admitting culpable driving causing the deaths of Senior Constables Lynette Taylor and Kevin King, and Constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney.

However, after a successful appeal, his sentence was reduced to 18-and-a-half years, with his minimum term cut by four years to 14-and-a-half.

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