Puneet Puneet has gone missing in India ahead of a scheduled court appearance.
Puneet Puneet has gone missing in India ahead of a scheduled court appearance.

Runaway hit-run driver missing in India ahead of extradition

Runaway hit-run killer Puneet Puneet has gone missing in India as authorities closed in on his extradition to face justice in Melbourne.

Puneet, who used a friend's passport to flee overseas while on bail for killing Dean Hofstee in a drunken crash in 2008, has not been seen since last Tuesday.

The Herald Sun understands Puneet was due to face court today for one of the last hearings before being extradited to Australia.

But his father, Naresh Kumar, told local police last week that his son was missing, and family have since revealed he sold his car and disappeared with the cash.

"My son is facing an extradition hearing in Delhi Court for an unfortunate accident in Australia," Mr Kumar said in the police report.

"He is not keeping well and is mentally depressed. He has a four years old son.

"We searched everywhere but couldn't find Puneet, so we are seeking police help to trace him."

Mr Kumar said Puneet was having an affair with a married woman, who he said "should also be questioned to know the whereabouts of my son".

Puneet has been fighting extradition to Australia since fleeing in 2009.

Local inspector Joginder Singh said Puneet's disappearance "is being investigated", while his defence lawyer advocate Kanhaiya Kumar Singhal told the Herald Sun his client's vanishing act was "concerning".

"Yes, he has run away from his home," he said.

"His father called me and informed (me of) this. It is matter of concern.

"I hope right sense prevails and he returns."

Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said last night that the state had made "urgent representations to the Commonwealth Government to express our deep concern" over reports Puneet had gone on the run.

"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.

"Mr Puneet needs to return to Victoria to face the consequences of his actions, and we won't rest until justice is served."

A spokesman for Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said last night that "Australia's interest in securing extradition in this matter remains".

Mr Hoftsee's dad, Peter Hoftsee, told the Herald Sun last night he had not been told about Puneet fleeing his family home, to which he had been bailed by Indian authorities.

One of Puneet's relatives told the Herald Sun yesterday: "Just few days ago Puneet sold his personal car and took that money (with him)."

Harayana Police sources also told the Herald Sun that Puneet's wife Palka Rewal also filed a complaint with local police on June 1, accusing him of having an affair.

On October 1, 2008, then 19-year-old Puneet hit and killed Mr Hofstee, a 19-year-old Queensland student, while drunkenly speeding along City Rd in Southbank.

He pleaded guilty to culpable driving but in 2009 used a friend's passport to flee to India while on bail awaiting sentence.

He was arrested by Indian police on his wedding day in 2013 but has bitterly been fighting extradition.

The cowardly driver has previously claimed that Australia has hounded him "like a killer terrorist", and heartlessly offered to apologise to Mr Hofstee's family - "if it really matters to them".

His legal team has even dubbed Australia racist for its attempts to extradite Puneet to face justice.

Puneet was granted bail in the Delhi High Court on May 28 after his lawyer claimed he was suffering from a life-threatening kidney condition. He was made to sign a surety bond of $4000 and asked not to leave the Country without permission.

He was also advised to attend all extradition hearing in Delhi Patiala High Court where he is fighting his extradition to Australia.

 

Originally published as Runaway hit-run driver missing in India ahead of extradition



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