33-year-old Puneet Puneet who is charged with the hit-run death of Gold Coast man in Melbourne 14 years ago has been granted bail by a court in India.
Puneet fled to India in 2009 after pleading guilty to culpable driving causing death of university student Dean Hofstee.
At the time of the incident in 2008, Puneet was a Learner driver and recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.165. He was also estimated to have been driving a V6 Commodore at 150 km/hr which hit Dean Hofstee and Clancy Coker.
Puneet fled Australia on a friend’s passport while awaiting sentencing and was arrested in India in 2013 on his wedding day. He had been fighting extradition to Australia ever since by claiming threat to his safety due to racism.
In 2019, Puneet’s awyer Kanhaiya Kumar Singhal had told A Current Affair they have “a very good case and there are good chances that [they] will win [their] case and extradition will be dropped.” However, the Victorian Attorney-General’s office today confirmed it “does not dictate what sentences courts impose, nor are they able to offer plea deals.”
After the bail, spokesperson for Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says the government remains committed to securing Puneet’s extradition. The spokesman said.
“Indian authorities are responsible for pursuing Australia’s extradition request through the Indian courts and the Australian government is grateful to Indian authorities for their ongoing assistance in progressing this request.”
Prosecutors opposed Puneet’s bail and said he was “a flight risk and was apprehended only after three years of search.” According to court documents, the lawyers for Puneet said his mother had a “lung disease and there is no one to look after her”. He has also been ordered by High Court of Delhi to pay Rs 20,000 surety and surrender his passport.
The family of Dean Hofstee told 9News that they were extremely disappointed at Puneet being granted bail. Hoftsee’s father said:
“He pleaded guilty to culpable driving and he killed my son. If he had been held in custody maybe we would have seen an outcome quicker.”
Puneet will return to court on October 17.