Trucking boss jailed for crash that killed four police officers

Cris Large, the former national operations manager of Connect Logistics, has been sentenced to three years in jail for his reckless workplace behaviour in the lead-up to the Eastern Freeway crash that killed four Victorian police officers in April 2020.

Large had been found guilty of a category 1 offence under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) on December 4, 2023, for breaching his duty as an operator and was sentenced in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on January 23.

NHVR executive director statutory compliance, Raymond Hassall, says this ruling shows the regulator’s commitment to road safety and the power of the HVNL.

“We don’t just urge, but we challenge all companies to critically review and strengthen their fatigue management practices. These systems are crucial for ensuring the safety of drivers and the public,” Hassall said.

NHVR director of prosecutions, Belinda Hughes says the NHVR is not just emphasising the need for proper fatigue management systems.

“Fatigue isn’t a minor issue; a fatigued driver risks their own lives and the lives of the road users around them. This case demonstrates the shared responsibility for drivers to be fit to drive. The duty rests on the company and senior management just as much as the driver,” Hughes said.

“Our thoughts are with the families of the four officers. This tragedy serves as a sombre reminder of why we must all work together to uphold the highest standards of road safety.”

Magistrate Daniel Reiss ordered Large to serve a non-parole period of 12 months, meaning he will be eligible for release in January 2025.

Prosecutor Jennifer Single SC told the court that Large should face the highest possible penalty for his offending of five years, given the extent of his wrongful behaviour that led to the deaths of Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Constable Glen Humphris, Senior Constable Kevin King and Constable Josh Prestney.

That included completing false timesheets, failing to ensure drivers were managing their fatigue appropriately and systemic failures to ensure safety measures were followed.

“It was so simple to be corrected … the offender simply had to do his job,” Single said.

The regulator alleged the truck company, which is no longer operating, risked public safety and contravened its duties by failing to ensure drivers were assessed and monitored for fatigue, drugs and alcohol.

The prosecution argued Large’s encouragement of manager Simiona Tuteru to “get the job done at all costs” was a contributing factor in Mohinder Singh getting behind the wheel of the truck that later crashed into the four officers.

[L-R] Constable Glen Humphris, Senior Constable Kevin King, Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor and Constable Joshua Prestney were killed in the Melbourne freeway tragedy. Image: Victoria Police

Singh was jailed for 22 years after veering across several lanes of the Eastern Freeway in Kew before ploughing into three cars and killing four police officers who had been conducting a routine vehicle inspection.

Concerns were raised in the lead-up to the crash about the number of hours worked by some of the drivers, including cases of staff working up to 20 hours a day.

The prosecution also successfully sought a prohibition order to stop Large working in the transport sector for 12 months after his release.

Large was handcuffed and led from the courtroom after the verdict was read out, according to one report.

His lawyers indicated he would appeal the sentence.

In its case learnings posted on its website in November last year, the regulator said the subsequent investigation revealed the following over a seven month period prior to the collision:

• More than 40 per cent of the company’s driving shifts had one or more fatigue-related breaches

• Across approximately 1900 driving shifts, more than 800 shifts had a number of fatigue breaches

• The supervisor checked and endorsed over 500 of the 800 offending shifts

• 2.6 per cent (22) of the breaches within the 800 shifts were identified by the company;

• No non-conformance reports were issued to drivers by the Company for Heavy Vehicle National Law (‘HVNL’) breaches

• The primary contractor for the company had raised critical non-conformance reports against the company for repeated fatigue breaches by their drivers

• Evidence of falsified timesheets under other employee names to avoid detection were used and approved by senior management.

1 Comment

  1. People have been killed on our roads for years due to dodgy employers pushing drivers while only the drivers are being prosecuted and the companies getting off with just a fine but because police officers were killed the legal system went hell for leather and jailed a senior manager.
    Why aren’t they doing this for every death. Why is a police officers life worth more than anyone else’s. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy to see management being held accountable but this should be done in every case not just because police officers were killed

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