Singaporean in fatal NZ crash gets 4 months' home detention, $25,000 fine and community work

Lew Wei Kiong has been sentenced to four months of home detention and 200 hours of community work.
Lew Wei Kiong has been sentenced to four months of home detention and 200 hours of community work.PHOTO: OTAGO DAILY TIMES
Singaporean Wei Kiong Lew in the dock of the Dunedin District Court, on June 3, 2016.
Singaporean Wei Kiong Lew in the dock of the Dunedin District Court, on June 3, 2016.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM STUFF.CO.NZ

A Singaporean who was involved in a fatal accident while holidaying in New Zealand has been sentenced to four months of home detention and 200 hours of community work.

Lew Wei Kiong, 30, was also disqualified from driving and ordered to pay NZ$27,000 ($25,400) for causing emotional harm, stuff.co.nz reported.

He was holidaying with a female colleague in New Zealand's South Island on Nov 29 last year when the rented Toyota Corolla he was driving caused a four-vehicle crash.

The accident, which took place on the state highway in North Otago - about 20km south of Oamaru- resulted in the death of 39-year-old motorcyclist Craig Alan Chambers.


The aftermath of the car crash involving Lew's rented Toyota Corolla. PHOTO: @GUNNY_NZ/INSTAGRAM

 
 
 

In his sentencing on Friday (June 3), Judge Kevin Phillips in the Dunedin District Court said fatigue combined with speed was a "lethal combination".

He noted that Lew fell asleep at the wheel and could not remember what had happened.

Lew, who works as a senior analyst at the Energy Market Authority (EMA), had pleaded guilty to aggravated careless driving causing death and another three charges of aggravated careless driving causing injury on April 12. 

He was initially charged with a count of dangerous driving causing death and three counts of dangerous driving causing injury, which he pleaded not guilty to on Jan 26. The prosecution subsequently reduced the charges after more investigations into the accident. 

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, an EMA spokesman said "it was an unfortunate incident" and Lew is now "taking full responsibility for his action".

"We will let him complete his home detention and return to Singapore before making any decision about his employment with EMA," the spokesman added.

According to stuff.co.nz, Mr Chambers' wife, Nicola, told Lew in court on Friday that "you are solely responsible for my child being fatherless and me being a widow".

"We were supposed to grow old together. Our daughter is feeling so much loss and sadness," she is quoted as saying.

Lew was said to have crossed the yellow lines into the northbound overtaking lane at some point. After rounding a moderate right-hand bend, Lew's car ran into a group of six incoming vehicles that were passing a vehicle pulling a horse float.

Five people were also hurt in the accident, including Lew's 31-year-old colleague, who reportedly suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised after rescuers had to extricate her from the wreckage.

His colleague returned to Singapore the following month for further treatment. An EMA spokesman told The Straits Times in January that she was recovering well.

The police blamed the crash on driver inattention, and the case generated debate over tourist drivers and road safety in the country.

In October 2014, Singapore Airlines pilot Benjamin Wu Yonghao, 32, was ordered to pay NZ$10,000 each to two colleagues seriously injured in a crash in New Zealand, and banned from driving there for 18 months, after he ran a stop sign.