A Melbourne man who allegedly filmed himself taunting a dying police officer after a horror smash on the Eastern Freeway has a “flagrant disregard” for court orders and could go on the run, police officers opposing his bail application say.
After close to three weeks in custody, Richard Pusey, 41, on Monday launched a temporary bid for freedom as his case wends its way through the Victorian justice system, which has ground to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But police have opposed the application, telling the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court that if Mr Pusey was released on bail, it could lead to “serious injury or death”.
“Police believe that if the accused were released on bail, he would continue his reckless driving behaviour,” Detective Senior Constable Aaron Price told the court.
Detective Price told the court Mr Pusey fixates on people and that if he received bail, police feared he would interfere with witnesses.
“The accused appears to take a disturbing pleasure causing other people fear or discomfort,” he said.
“He would be very driven to harass and intimidate witnesses to get them to either not give evidence or alter their evidence.”
The court also heard that police feared Mr Pusey – who had “substantial” financial resources – could flee Victoria.
“He’s under pressure as he never has been before. This matter has a huge public profile,” Detective Price said.
“If he faces a custodial term, he’s got a significant amount of resources to flee the jurisdiction and not being held to account for what he’s done.
Court told accused filmed dying officer for three minutes
Mr Pusey was pulled over by four Victoria Police officers on April 22 for allegedly driving at 149 kilometres per hour on the Eastern Freeway.
Police alleged he tested positive to using ecstasy and cannabis.
A short time later, a refrigerated truck, allegedly driven by Mohinder Singh, veered into the four police officers, fatally injuring them.
Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Constable Glen Humphris, Senior Constable Kevin King and Constable Josh Prestney were killed in the crash.
Police alleged that instead of rendering assistance, Mr Pusey pulled out his phone and approached Leading Senior Constable Taylor as she was pinned to the truck.
For more than three minutes, Mr Pusey filmed the dying police officer, who groaned, zooming in as he made “derogatory” remarks.
“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,” Mr Pusey is alleged to have said.
“The content of these videos can only be described as abhorrent,” Detective Senior Price said.
“He demonstrates the foresight to go to his vehicle. He removes two mobile phones … he then commences filming and narrates it in a calm, derogatory manner.
Accused could have comforted dying officer
The court heard that in the moments after the crash, the truck driver, Mr Singh, was seen walking up and down in the emergency lane, wailing.
Mr Pusey’s defence barrister, Vincent Peters, questioned what the accused man could have reasonably done immediately after the incident.
“There were medical people there. What obligation could there have been on Mr Pusey to render assistance?” Mr Peters asked.
“It’s rendered on him by law,” Detective Senior Constable Price said.
“He could comfort someone who was dying.”
Mr Peters said the charge was that his client failed to render assistance.
“And I’m asking, what should he have done? What could he have done in those circumstances?” Mr Peters said.
Detective Senior Constable Price said Mr Pusey could have performed CPR on one of the dying officers.
“You have to be trained in CPR don’t you?” Mr Peters said.
Mr Pusey will return to court on May 14 to hear the court’s decision on his bail application.