The Porsche driver accused of filming a dying police officer after a horrific crash that killed four officers was in shock after experiencing his own ‘near death experience’, a court has heard.
Millionaire businessman Richard Pusey, 41, appeared via videolink on Wednesday in a Melbourne court where he faces 15 charges – one of which hasn’t been used since the 1600s in England.
‘Amazing. Absolutely amazing. All I wanted to do was go home and eat my sushi and now you have f**ked my f**king car,’ Pusey was allegedly heard to say as Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor lay dying.
Pusey had avoided the crash that killed the officers after he jumped the fence to urinate.
Top Melbourne barrister Dermot Dann, QC, who appears for Pusey, claims his client was in shock when he pulled out his phone to film the scene after narrowly escaping death himself.
‘Part of the context of course is that Mr Pusey – on any objective view – must have been involved in a near death experience,’ he told the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
‘There’s evidence … of him being, shortly after him being filming, in a very distressed and shocked state.’
Mr Dann said his particular circumstances immediately following the deadly crash needed to be taken into account when judging his behaviour.
Pusey is contesting an offence that has never been used in Australian legal history, Mr Dann contends.
The charge of ‘outraging public decency’ was added to Pusey’s existing 12 charges in late June.
It was issued amid allegations Pusey was heard by witnesses declaring ‘these cops were harassing me, that’s justice’.
Mr Dann told the court another witness who filmed the scene, albeit from further away, had not been charged by police.
The court heard Pusey had been co-operative with police after they pulled him over on April 22 on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway amid allegations he was speeding.
Mr Dann said Pusey’s behaviour toward Leading Senior Constable Taylor had been conducted in a ‘good natured way’ before the truck hit.
‘There was laughing between them. This can be seen. There is evidence of Mr Pusey describing Leading Senior Constable Taylor as being lovely and nice. And this is in the immediate aftermath of this filming,’ Mr Dann said.
‘It’s no part of the defence case that there can be some kind of characterisation of this whole event as Mr Pusey being angry with the individual officers that he was dealing with at the scene. We say that’s not part of our case and it’s not the evidence.’
Mr Dann said his client had not argued with police and said the prosecution agreed too that Pusey had not taunted the dying officer.
‘He cannot be described as taunting any of the police officers,’ he said.
Mr Dann again said his client would likely plead guilty to some charges if police would withdraw that offence.
But prosecutor Robyn Harper said the Crown would not back down, arguing that elements of the charge had been used before in prosecuting sex offenders.
Ms Harper produced newspaper court reports dating back more than 100 years to back-up her claims.
Ironically, just moments earlier she had argued to deny court reporters access to documents and other materials tendered to the court.
Mr Dann argued no trace of the actual charge being prosecuted could be found in Australian legal history.
Mr Pusey himself sat quietly from a prison media room throughout the video hearing.
At one point, he interjected to help resolve a technical problem with the video feed.
The court heard previously the legal process could drag on for years if police pushed ahead with all of the charges currently hanging over Pusey’s head.
The driver of the truck, Mohinder Singh, was charged with four counts of culpable driving and also remains behind bars.
Mr Dann said even if the charge did exist, his client could not be found guilty of it because hardly anyone had heard his comments.
Pusey has been behind bars since April when a truck crashed into four officers after they pulled him over for allegedly driving at 149km/h in his Porsche 911 with cannabis and ice in his system.
The three male officers were already dead when Pusey allegedly began filming.
Public funerals were held for all four officers after the tragedy, which marked the single greatest loss of police life in Victoria’s history.
Pusey’s previous 12 charges include driving at a dangerous speed, reckless conduct endangering life, destruction of evidence, perverting the course of justice, failing to remain at the scene after a drug test and failing to render assistance.
At a previous hearing last month, Magistrate Jo Metcalf labelled Pusey’s alleged filming of the graphic crash scene as ‘highly intrusive and morally repugnant’ but noted it was not illegal.
He remans in protective custody at Melbourne Assessment Prison and did not apply for bail.