Connect Logistics fined $2.3m for serious chain of responsibility breach


Connect Logistics, the company involved in the tragic death of four Victorian police officers in 2020, has been fined $2.31 million for the most serious offence available under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NVNL).

The company’s managing director Corey Matthews was also fined $22,000 and given a supervisory order at the Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Friday, November 10.

NHVR director of prosecutions Belinda Hughes said this will be the first time a local court has issued a fine of this magnitude, reflecting the severity of the breach.

“The company was fined a total of $2.31 million and is prohibited from operating for 12 months – this is the highest fine we’ve ever seen under the HVNL,” Hughes said.

“This case demonstrates the national reach of the HVNL, with the company and managing director based in New South Wales, but the incident occurring in Victoria.

“This outcome sends a strong message to those taking the deadly risk of breaching their primary duty.

“Executives need to ensure they have effective systems in place to support fatigue management across their business and to empower all levels of their organisation to take fatigue management seriously.

“As we heard in court ‘no one should have to worry that they or their loved one will not come home from work’.”

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the organisation is committed to ensuring the safety of all road users, with this significant result set to influence safety outcomes into the future.

“Chain of Responsibility requirements form part of the HVNL primary safety duty and executives are required to exercise due diligence to ensure a company complies with this duty,” Petroccitto said.

“This tragedy is a sobering reminder of the consequences that can occur when there is a failure to ensure safe transport activities.

“Fatigue is one of the leading factors that affects safety and heavy vehicle crashes, and this catastrophic incident exemplifies what can happen when fatigue management requirements are blatantly ignored.

“Our thoughts are with the families of the four officers involved.”

The officers killed in the 2020 crash were leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Constable Glen Humphris, Senior Constable Kevin King and Constable Josh Prestney.

Mohinder Singh was high on methamphetamine and lacking sleep when his semi-trailer ploughed into the officers who’d stopped a speeding Porsche driven by Richard Pusey on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway.

Singh is serving more than 18 years behind bars for his role in the crash.

As head of the Sydney-based company, Matthews admitted having failed to exercise due diligence in ensuring the compliance of his drivers.

At the time of the tragedy, Connect Logistics held a lucrative contract with poultry supplier Inghams delivering chickens to KFCs and supermarkets across metro Melbourne, as well as shuttling slaughtered animals to processing plants.

NHVR prosecutor Jennifer Single told the court in the months before the crash, Inghams had raised concerns about the hours drivers were working, believing them to exceed the legal limit of 12 hours a day.

Four months before the crash, Inghams filed a formal issue relating to Melbourne supervisor and driver Simiona Tuteru, whose time sheets showed on multiple occasions worked between 18 and 20 hours a day.

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