06/10/2022

The 42-year-old is accused of filming a police officer as she lay dying on a Melbourne freeway. His lawyers say the charge of outraging public decency is invalid, but the prosecution maintains it exists under Australian law.

Lawyers for Richard Pusey, the man accused of filming a police officer as she lay dying on a Melbourne freeway, say investigators got “creative” when charging their client with a crime they say does not exist in Australia.
Key points:

  • Mr Pusey was pulled over for allegedly driving his Porsche at 149 kilometres per hour
  • A refrigerated truck then veered into four police officers, killing them at the scene
  • Police allege that instead of rendering assistance, Mr Pusey recorded a video

Lawyers for Mr Pusey, 42, today urged the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to find that the charge of outraging public decency, which has been levelled against their client, is invalid.
“There’s nothing in our respectful submission about the valid existence of that charge in the state,” his barrister, Dermot Dann QC, said.
“The fact that someone creative has decided to charge Mr Pusey with this offence [says] nothing about the validity of the charge or whether it’s been recognised,” Mr Dann said.
As both sides continue to thrash out a possible plea deal, a clear sticking point has emerged about whether Mr Pusey committed an obscene or disgusting act by recording Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor in her final moments.
“Filming a scene is not necessarily an offence at all,” Mr Dann said.
“It’s not just filming the scene, it’s the scene that he was filming,” Magistrate Donna Bakos said.
On April 22, Mr Pusey was pulled over by Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor and First Constable Glen Humphris for allegedly driving his Porsche at 149 kilometres per hour on the Eastern Freeway.
Moments after two other officers joined them on the scene, a refrigerated truck, driven by Mohinder Singh, veered into the officers, who were killed in the crash.
Constable Glen Humphris, Senior Constable Kevin King, Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor and Constable Joshua Prestney were killed in the crash on April 22.(Supplied: Victoria Police)
Police allege that instead of rendering assistance, Mr Pusey pulled out his phone and approached Senior Constable Taylor as she was pinned to the truck.
In the days and weeks after the incident, the 42-year-old was charged by police with 15 crimes including perverting the course of justice, possessing a drug of dependence, dangerous driving and failing to render assistance.
But today, Mr Dann said the charge of committing an act outraging public decency was “unusual” and “unrecognisable” in Victoria.
“This court could not be satisfied that the common law offence with which he’s been charged has been validly laid, or has a valid existence,” Mr Dann said.
But Crown prosecutor Robyn Harper told the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court that the offence Mr Pusey was being accused of did exist under Australian common law.
She pointed to six cases prosecuted in Australia where outraging public decency had played a role.
“This very court heard the offence of an act outraging public decency on the 8th of August 2014 and imposed a sentence of imprisonment of one month for that charge in that instance,” Ms Harper said.
“That indicates from the outset that this offence has been dealt with in this jurisdiction on a previous occasion.”
Pusey’s lawyers hope to avoid trial
But while the focus today was on what the parties could not agree on, there appears to have been a significant shift in the rhetoric around some of Mr Pusey’s alleged behaviour while filming the dying police officer.
Last week, his barristers told the court that Mr Pusey was not in fact taunting Lynette Taylor in the moments after the crash, but rather speaking to himself.
Today, Ms Harper was at pains to acknowledge this as she referred to the chronology of events on the day.
“The accused, your honour, activated the video function on his camera, walked slowly around the scene filming, focusing on the victims, zooming in and made two recordings, commentating, not taunting, but commentating and making comments to those around him,” Ms Harper said.
But she drew the court’s attention to the alleged tone, the manner and the words of Mr Pusey’s recording.
“A number of people at the scene indicate annoyance or distaste with his actions,” she said.
Mr Dann today reiterated his client’s hopes that many of the charges would be dropped and that the case could be resolved.
“We’re trying to avoid a trial,” Mr Dann said.
Mr Pusey’s hearing was today held online as Victoria continues to grapple with a second coronavirus surge, but it was plagued with technical issues.
At one point, Mr Pusey attempted to help the magistrate with her connectivity issues.
“Your honour I think it’s your side,” Mr Pusey said.
“If you turn the microphones off on the bench,” he said.
Mr Pusey will return to court in October.