Porsche driver Richard Pusey freed on bail

 

The Porsche driver accused of callously filming a dying policewoman following the Eastern Freeway crash has been freed on bail.

Richard Pusey, 42, appeared via video link from prison in Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Friday where magistrate Donna Bakos granted him bail on strict conditions including he does not drive.

Police had opposed the mortgage broker's release, saying he was a "manipulative, controlling man" who could interfere with witnesses.

Detective Senior Constable Aaron Price had also told the court Mr Pusey's history showed he had a blatant disregard for the road rules, with a tendency to drive fast in flashy cars, putting the lives of other road users at risk.

But Mr Pusey's lawyer Dermot Dann, QC, argued his client had mental health problems that could be treated on his release, outlining a proposed treatment plan including psychological counselling.

Mr Dann said his client was at risk of being on remand for longer than any sentence that would be imposed if convicted, with delays in the justice system due to coronavirus meaning the earliest trial date available would be late 2022.

Richard Pusey with police outside his Fitzroy apartment. Picture: AAP
Richard Pusey with police outside his Fitzroy apartment. Picture: AAP

His freedom comes after a series of charges were dropped against Mr Pusey earlier this week, with Ms Bakos determining there was insufficient evidence for them to proceed to trial.

Ms Bakos said Mr Pusey could not be considered a driver at the time of the April 22 collision as he was no longer in control of his vehicle, having been out of his vehicle for some 36 minutes while it was being impounded, and therefore he was not required to stay at the scene to render assistance.

She withdrew the charge, along with two counts of perverting the course of justice, and a destruction of evidence offence relating to him allegedly deleting footage he took at the crash scene from his mobile phone.

But Ms Bakos said Mr Pusey should stand trial in the County Court on reckless conduct endangering serious injury, reckless conduct endangering death and possessing a drug of dependence.

In a landmark ruling, she also allowed a controversial and rare charge of outraging public decency, which Mr Pusey's legal team had argued did not exist in Australia.

The court heard the charge related to Mr Pusey filming the aftermath of the Kew crash while making commentary about how the collision was "justice", how lucky he had been to escape and that he would be getting an Uber home.

 

Four police officers died in the horrific crash. Picture: AAP
Four police officers died in the horrific crash. Picture: AAP

 

"Could a jury decide that the accused's conduct was at the highest end of what is disgusting, repugnant, repulsive or offensive? In my view a jury could," Ms Bakos said.

"The accused will therefore be committed for trial on this charge."

Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King, Constable Josh Prestney and Constable Glen Humphris were all killed when a truck veered into the emergency lane where they had stopped Mr Pusey for allegedly speeding.

Mr Pusey escaped injury as he had walked onto the verge to urinate moments earlier.

He allegedly ran to the wreckage of his Porsche to grab his two mobile phones - and a lunch bag police allege contained drugs - and started filming the officers instead of helping them, before hitching a ride with a passer-by.

Ms Bakos said a doctor who was among the first on scene had revealed in his police statement how Mr Pusey continued filming as they were trying to treat the victims.

In her ruling earlier this week, she said a bystander also told police how Mr Pusey "shrugged him off" when he asked him to help protect one of the victims by holding up a blanket.

Another witness, she said, reported pushing Mr Pusey out of the way as he was getting in the way of the doctors attempting to treat the officers.

Mr Pusey, from Fitzroy, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He will face a directions hearing in the County Court next month.

 

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rebekah.cavanagh@news.com.au

 

 

Originally published as Porsche driver Richard Pusey freed on bail