Premier pursues ‘cowardly’ Indian driver
Victoria’s premier says a “cowardly” driver who fled to India to escape sentencing over a fatal drunken 2008 crash should return and face justice.
Daniel Andrews will raise the case of Puneet Puneet with Indian officials when he travels to the country in January.
“The fact that he in a cowardly act, scarpered, ran away from facing the consequences of his actions, speaks volumes for his character,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Thursday.
“Everybody across Victoria would be pleased to see him sent back to do the jail time that he should do right here.”
Puneet was a 19-year-old learner driver when he hit and killed nursing student Dean Hofstee, 19, and seriously injured Clancy Coker, 20, in Melbourne in October 2008.
He was on bail and awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to culpable driving when he fled Australia in 2009 using a friend’s passport and hid for more than four years until his capture.
At court appearances in Delhi, where he is fighting extradition, Puneet has pleaded for forgiveness from the families of Mr Hofstee and Mr Coker.
“He might be in a much stronger position asking for forgiveness if he fronted up here and do the time that he should,” Mr Andrews said.
Police estimate Puneet was drunk and driving at 148km/h – more than double the posted limit – when he crashed into Mr Hofstee and Mr Coker.
The Patiala District Court is deciding whether more witnesses should give evidence in Puneet’s fight against extradition and the matter will resume on February 2.