Cabby jailed 9 months and disqualified from driving for 10 years for causing cyclist's death

Wong Seng Fook pleaded guilty to a charge of committing a rash act, and to a count of driving under the influence of alcohol over the legal limit.
Wong Seng Fook pleaded guilty to a charge of committing a rash act, and to a count of driving under the influence of alcohol over the legal limit.PHOTO: ST GRAPHIC

SINGAPORE - A 55-year-old taxi driver who caused the death of a cyclist earlier this year was on Thursday jailed for nine months and disqualified from driving for 10 years.

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

He also admitted to a charge of driving without switching on his front headlamps, which was taken into consideration in 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 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 about 4.45am, when he was woken up by a parking warden.

He then started his taxi engine, and drove forward and hit the pick-up truck.

He then reversed his taxi quickly and towards the right, without checking his rear.

The taxi crashed into 52-year-old Mr Toh Sin Huat, 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 6.10am.

When police arrived, Mr Wong reeked of alcohol.

A breathalyser test found that he had 46 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. Thelegal limit for driving is 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres 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.

Wong 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 on subsequent convictions.