9 months' jail for running over cyclist

A taxi driver who caused the death of a cyclist was jailed for nine months and disqualified from driving for 10 years yesterday.
A taxi driver who caused the death of a cyclist was jailed for nine months and disqualified from driving for 10 years yesterday.PHOTO: ST GRAPHIC

A taxi driver who caused the death of a cyclist was jailed for nine months and disqualified from driving for 10 years yesterday.

Wong Seng Fook, 55, pleaded guilty to a charge of committing a rash act not amounting to culpable homicide. He also pleaded guilty to a count of driving under the influence of alcohol over the legal limit.

A charge of driving without switching on his front headlamps was taken into consideration during sentencing.

The court heard that at about midnight on Feb 1, Wong went to Red Apple KTV at Golden Mile Tower.

He drank at least three glasses of beer until about 3.30am, before going to Lorong 19 Geylang to deposit money into an ATM machine at about 4am. He parked his taxi illegally along the unbroken yellow lines along the road there, behind a pick-up truck.

After depositing his money, he fell asleep in his taxi until he was woken up by a parking warden at about 4.45am. He started his taxi's engine and drove forward, but hit the pick-up truck. He then, without checking his rear, reversed his taxi quickly and towards the right.

The taxi crashed into Mr Toh Sin Huat, 52, who was on his bicycle.

Wong continued to reverse after sweeping Mr Toh under his taxi, and crashed into another car. He then drove forward before stopping his taxi.

Mr Toh suffered multiple injuries and died in hospital at about 6am.

When the police arrived, Wong reeked of alcohol. A breathalyser test found that he had 46 microgrammes of alcohol per 100ml of breath. The legal limit for driving is 35 microgrammes per 100ml of breath.

In a mitigation letter submitted to the court, Wong said he gets flashbacks of the accident, which cause him sleepless nights, and that he is seeing a doctor at the Institute of Mental Health. He also said that he is a bankrupt and that he is the sole breadwinner of his family.

"I have been feeling miserable and depressed over family and financial issues," he added, pleading for leniency.

For causing the death of a person by doing a rash act not amounting to culpable homicide, Wong could have been jailed for up to five years and fined.

The maximum penalty for drink driving over the legal limit is six months' jail on a first conviction, and 12 months' jail and a fine on subsequent convictions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2015, with the headline '9 months' jail for running over cyclist'. Print Edition | Subscribe