Formula One: British track intruder goes back to prison

British national Yogvitam Pravin Dhokia made an unauthorised entry via a designated safety Egress Point (EP) during the 2015 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix held on August 20, 2015.
British national Yogvitam Pravin Dhokia made an unauthorised entry via a designated safety Egress Point (EP) during the 2015 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix held on August 20, 2015. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE (AFP) - A young Briton facing criminal charges for walking into the track during last month's Singapore Grand Prix voluntarily went back to prison on Friday (Oct 16), an act that would reduce an anticipated jail term.

Yogvitam Pravin Dhokia, 27, arrived in court for a pre-trial hearing with a large backpack and after conferring with the judge, along with his lawyer, was seen being led away by uniformed police officers.

"He chose to go back into remand," his lawyer Jeremy Mark Pereira told AFP. "He went back voluntarily."

Pereira said a hearing was set for Nov 3 and in the meantime defence lawyers would confer with state prosecutors about the case.

Time spent in remand is taken off prison terms in Singapore.

Dhokia, who could be jailed for up to six months, had already spent 10 days in remand following his arrest during the Sept 20 race on a floodlit street circuit, the lawyer said.

He was released after posting bail of S$15,000 on Oct 2 after his parents arrived in Singapore.

Dhokia was unable to post bail on his own, saying he had spent all his savings to attend the race.

Legal experts familiar with the case told AFP that apart from shortening any jail term by going back into remand, cash-strapped Dhokia would also be saving on accommodation and food expenses in Singapore, one of the world's costliest cities.

He has been charged with committing a "rash act" that endangered other people, an offence punishable with imprisonment of up to six months or a maximum fine of S$2,500, or both.

His lawyer said they would seek a shorter prison sentence.

The charge sheet said Dhokia endangered the personal safety of the drivers when he crossed the track while the race was in full swing in Singapore's upmarket Marina Bay district.

Closed-circuit television footage released after the race showed Dhokia wriggling his way through a gap in the circuit's metal fencing.

Clad in a T-shirt and shorts, he crossed the track, first ambling slowly and then accelerating as race cars approached.

Eventual race winner Sebastian Vettel had a major shock on lap 36 when he raised the alarm and brought the race to a temporary halt.

"There's a man on the track!" Vettel yelled over the team radio as the safety car came out.