The senior manager of a trucking company has learned his fate following a deadly freeway crash that killed four police officers.
Truck before fatal Eastern Freeway crash
Cris Large faced Sydney Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday after being found guilty of failing his duty as an executive in connection to the deadly April 2020 crash.
Magistrate Daniel Reiss found the national operations manager of Connect Logistics failed in his responsibility to prevent the “major failings” of the company which contributed to the “tragic loss of life” in the horrific 2020 crash.
He sentenced Large to three years behind bars for the “repeated and systemic” offending.
Large, who was a senior executive at the trucking company involved in the Eastern Freeway crash, was lead out of the courtroom in handcuffs as his family members hugged each other.
Truck driver Mohinder Singh was high on methamphetamine and sleep-deprived when he got behind the wheel of the 20-tonne refrigerated truck on April 22, 2020.
He veered across several lanes of the Eastern Freeway in Kew before ploughing into three cars and killing four police officers who had been conducting a routine vehicle inspection.
The court heard the events that led to the deaths of the officers “had been in motion” for seven months prior to April 22, 2020.
National Heavy Vehicle Regulator prosecutor Jennifer Single SC said Large presided over “systemic” failures within the company which tainted 15 vehicles and all of its Melbourne employees.
The court heard he allowed drivers to take to the road without proper training, fatigue management systems, or supervision.
The national operations manager also approved and paid doctored timesheets which showed inadequate rest breaks, including for the driver who killed the four police officers.
“The offender engaged in conduct on a number of occasions that exposed Connect drivers and ultimately police officers to risk of danger and potential death,” Ms Single said.
“The objective seriousness of (his) culpability increases because it was so simple to prevent.”
“The offender simply had to do his job. The offender simply had to follow the law.”
Senior Constables Lynette Taylor, Kevin King and Constables Glen Humphris and Joshua Prestney died at the scene.
Mr Singh was sentenced to more than 18 years behind bars after pleading guilty to four charges of culpable driving causing death.
The families of the slain Victorian police officers filled the courtroom on Tuesday, where they paid tribute to their loved ones.
Stuart Schulze, the husband of Constable Lynette Taylor, said the loss of his “wife, best friend and soulmate” had left “an indelible mark” on his life.
“I have a deep anger towards this company,” he told the court.
“I hold them all to blame.”
Constable Joshua Presney’s father Andrew mourned the “soul destroying” death of his son, who he said was “taken away from us … in circumstances that we now know were completely preventable.”
Constable Presney’s brother Alex, also a police officer, said “someone has to take responsibility” for his Joshua’s untimely death.
“I don’t blame you but you will take responsibility,” he told Large in court.
“Whether you pulled the trigger, the weapon was able to carry out its action and there are many fingerprints all over it.”