Truck driver who killed police officer knew his brakes weren’t working
“It was totally avoidable. Of course you didn’t set out to bring such an act. If only you stopped your truck when you knew the brakes were not functioning appropriately but you didn’t and she is now dead,” he said.
Outside court following the sentence, Ms De Leo’s partner Krisztina Toth said she was glad to get justice.
“We have waited 3½ years for this day, so I guess I am just really relieved we got justice for Dee and at the end of the day we are all serving a lifetime sentence. So whatever we get, we are happy with,” she said.
“She was a kind, loving, beautiful person.
“I’m really glad it’s over and we have got justice for her.”
Ms De Leo was on her way to work in Fitzroy when she was hit. She was killed instantly. Mr Tinney said the death of Ms De Leo was a “massive blow to her loved ones, and there are many of them”.
“Every time I sit in this sort of case and observe the reading of victim impact statements, it’s driven home no-one ever expects to lose a family member on the road and no one can know in advance of this kind of act how it will impact upon them until it does,” he said.
“There is no way of preparing for this kind of sudden and unexpected loss.”
Ms De Leo’s mother Jan died of a terminal illness last year, before she was able to see through the end of the court proceedings. However, her victim impact statement was read to the court and detailed how the last few years of her life were marred by her daughter’s death.
“As a parent, she had the understandable expectation and hope that her children would survive her,” he said.
“She won’t see justice take it course but her voice rings out loud and clear in this court.”
Her father, Patrick De Leo, suffered the double blow of the death of both his daughter and then his wife.
“If anyone had a reason to wish ill of you or want revenge upon you it would be him,” Mr Tinney told the truck driver.
“Mr Singh listen very carefully: it’s a pretty remarkable impact statement in that the father of our victim says he does not want revenge and does not hate you.
“He wants you not to let the death of his daughter stop you from being a better person and thinks that would be the way his daughter would think as well.“
In sentencing, Mr Tinney also took into account Singh’s guilty plea, his “genuine” sense of remorse, absence of relevant criminal history and serious mental health issues.
The court heard that since the collision, Singh had been plunged “into a mental health crisis”.
His has been suicidal and experiencing “pervasive guilt and thoughts of death”. He is currently residing in the psychiatric inpatient unit of Ravenhall prison.
He has a tattoo on his body with Ms De Leo’s police number to remind him of the tragedy, the court heard.
Singh’s visa will be cancelled and he will likely be deported after serving his jail sentence. He has previously said he wants to return to India as soon as possible.
He moved to Australia in 2009 and worked as a chef for several years before deciding to move into truck driving.
Previous court hearings heard the truck wasn’t roadworthy, Singh knew the rear brakes were not working and the front brakes were compromised because the vehicle was loaded incorrectly.
The truck, owned by Ermes Transport, had a record of shoddy maintenance by an unqualified mechanic, but Singh initially denied knowing about any problems.
The 30-year-old pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death on the eve of his third trial attempt in March.
Simone is a crime reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Age, and before that for The Australian in Melbourne.