Seeing witches: The cult-like church and the crash that rocked Victoria

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Outside a cavernous warehouse on a chilly afternoon on Melbourne’s fringe, two men are praying, one laying his hands on the other.

Surrounded by prime mover trucks being loaded to travel vast distances across the state, one of the men is drug-addled, operating on barely any sleep and insisting he has been cursed by a witch.

Years later, that man would tell a Melbourne courtroom that on this night, he tried to warn his boss that he shouldn’t get behind the wheel. His boss, he would say, responded by “praying in Jesus’ name to take the curse away” and asked him to do just one short trip before returning to the warehouse.

The driver, Mohinder Singh, agreed to go. On that job, he veered violently off one of Melbourne’s busiest freeways. The semi-trailer ploughed into a group of police who had stopped another driver on the side of the road. Four officers were killed instantly.

A joint investigation between The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes can now reveal that Simiona Tuteru, also known as Simon, the trucking boss who prayed with his employee, was a dedicated senior leader and former pastor in a small but devout Pentecostal church which former members have compared to a cult.

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