The Victorian government has effectively ruled out referring Porsche driver Richard Pusey’s case to the law reform commission.
There have been calls for the state’s Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes to refer Pusey’s case to the Victorian Law Reform Commission so they can review the rare outraging public decency charge to ensure community expectations are being met.
Pusey was the first person to be prosecuted over that offence in Victoria since 1963.
It comes as family members of the four police officers killed in the Eastern Freeway tragedy say they would support an appeal of Pusey’s sentence.
The 42-year-old mortgage broker was given a 10-month jail term in Melbourne’s County Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to speeding and outraging public decency.
Pusey filmed and swore at four dying police officers – Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King, Constable Josh Prestney and Constable Glen Humphris – after the tragic Eastern Freeway crash on April 22, 2020.
But given he has already served 296 days on remand, Pusey could walk free in a matter of days if he is granted bail on other matters.
The Office of Public Prosecutions said it was standard practice to review all sentences.
“Accordingly, the sentence in the Richard Pusey case will be reviewed in due course,” a spokeswoman said.
The OPP has 28 days from the date of the sentence to decide to appeal.
Senior Constable Taylor’s husband, Stuart Schultz, labelled Pusey’s sentence as “totally inappropriate”.
“It is difficult to comprehend that the court did not seem to understand that when the evidence of outrageous behaviour is put before it, it is its duty to set the appropriate standard,” he said.
“This is the expectation of the community. If the court sets this level of punishment in a case that is too lenient, parts in our community now understand they now have a benchmark for accepted behaviour.
“I find it to be outraging public decency that a more appropriate sentence was not imposed by this court. It has now set such a bar with this type of offending that it is almost impossible to reach that level.”
Constable Humphris’s partner Todd Robinson said he would support an appeal, telling 7 News he felt “a bit let down by the justice system”.
Belinda and Andrew Prestney, the mum and dad of Constable Prestney, also said a harsher penalty was needed.
“He zoomed in on Josh’s face, he zoomed in on Josh’s name tag, he zoomed in on Josh’s injuries, so there’s something very wrong about a system that doesn’t punish that,” Ms Prestney told 7 News.
“We thought that our four loved ones deserved more, and we think that the Victorian public deserve more.”
There is also a push to refer Pusey’s case to the Victorian Law Reform Commission, which has the major responsibility to examine, report and make recommendations on improving and updating Victorian laws.
But given the high publicity of Pusey’s case, it would need to be referred to the commission by the Attorney-General before it can be reviewed.
The state government has indicated it does not intend to issue a law reform reference on outraging public decency, as the circumstances of Pusey’s case were “highly unusual” and the offence was rarely used.