Puneet Puneet has been a pain for Australia ever since he jumped bail and ran away to India on his friends passport in 2008. He was on bail in Victoria in a drink driving accident case gone wrong where he had killed a 19-year-old pedestrian Dean Hofstee and seriously injured his friend Clancy Coker.
After years of hard work and an award offer of A$100,000 for his whereabouts, Puneet was arrested in 2013 on his wedding day.
A lot has transpired in the case since then with varying claims on health and mental condition on his part to keep fighting Australia’s bid for his extradition to Victoria to face justice.
The case has had many different judges and the one before the current judge, judge Gurmohina Kaur really signalled her intentions to bring closure to the case for the Hofstee family. Judge Kaur showed real intent to finalize the issues in the case and ordered medical assessment of Puneet’s mental health when all other issues he and his team had come up with were taken care of.
To Puneet’s disappointment, the medical team assessed him to be fit for facing extradition. And while the two teams were to make their final submissions to the court, BT understands, the judge changed and the matter went before another judge, Judge Navjeet Budhiraja.
On one of the days of making final arguments, his lawyer ‘disappeared’ – technically did not show up in the court and sent a message to the court that he was unwell and thus Puneet’s final arguments could not be completed.
While all this was going on, Puneet, who had earlier claimed that he could not get a fair trial in Australia calling Australia to be a racist country – now realising the prospects of him being extradited were becoming real, fixed his own sentence to two years imprisonment in Australia.
That being a joke, and no one took it seriously but his resignation to the fact that he may be coming to Australia soon, felt real. But now in hindsight, it was part of another trick he pulled out on Hofstee family and Australia.
Yesterday would have been the final day before the decision of the court on extradition application. As it looked like going against him – as the court since late 2019 showed it was progressively moving towards granting the application, Puneet pulled another trick. He disappeared a week before the court date. He has gone missing.
If the information fed to the court is true, he sold his car for RTs 400,000/- (A$8,000) and has run away with his wife/partner or girlfriend and gone into hiding.
Understandably, the latest development has left the Hofstee family devastated and Victorians fuming.
Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the state had made “urgent representations to the Commonwealth government to express our deep concern” and to try to verify Puneet’s whereabouts.
“We will continue to work closely with them and relevant authorities to ensure Mr Puneet is found and extradited back to Victoria as quickly as possible,” she said in a statement.
“Mr Puneet needs to return to Victoria to face the consequences of his actions, and we won’t rest until justice is served.”
No date has been set for Puneet’s next hearing. Sadly for the Hofstee family the drama continues.