Man jailed, banned from driving for causing deaths of couple on motorbike

The scene of the accident on July 19, 2015. Nigel John Retnam, 22, who caused the deaths of a couple on a motorcycle while driving his friend's minibus was jailed for eight weeks and banned from driving for five years on Thursday (June 16).
The scene of the accident on July 19, 2015. Nigel John Retnam, 22, who caused the deaths of a couple on a motorcycle while driving his friend's minibus was jailed for eight weeks and banned from driving for five years on Thursday (June 16). PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - A man who caused the deaths of a couple on a motorcycle while driving his friend's minibus was jailed for eight weeks and banned from driving for five years on Thursday (June 16).

Nigel John Retnam, 22, was a full-time national serviceman when he negligently caused the deaths of Mr Wong Sang Min, 63, and his wife, Madam Ng Soo Kiew, 60, along Yishun Avenue 2 near Khatib MRT station on July 19 last year.

He had failed to keep a proper lookout, thus causing the minibus to hit the motorcycle, which in turn rammed into the back of a car, resulting in the couple being flung off the machine.

He pleaded guilty to the causing death charge and causing hurt to the front seat passenger of the Hyundai, Madam Zaharah Haji Mohamed Yasir, 41, who was hurt when she hit her chest onto the front dashboard of the car.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong said that Retnam met his friend, Mr Saravana Kumar Palaniyappan, 36, at Race Course Road that day. He told his friend that he needed to go to the Institute of Mental Health to visit his father and to Yishun to visit his sister.

He asked Mr Saravana, who owned an 11-seater minibus, if he could take him to those places but Mr Saravana said he could not as he was tired and busy.

Retnam then asked if he could borrow the minibus. Mr Saravana asked if he had a vocational driving licence, which was required to drive the public service vehicle. Retnam, who has a Class 3 driving licence, said no but his friend still agreed to lend him the minibus.

At about 2.30pm, Retnam was driving along Yishun Avenue 2 towards Canberra Link when he failed to keep a proper lookout. The minibus hit the back of the delivery rider's motorcycle which then collided into the Hyundai in front of it.

The Hyundai surged forward and Madam Zaharah, who was belted up, hit her chest on the dashboard.

Mr Wong was pronounced dead at 3.15pm. His wife was taken to Khoo Teck Puat General Hospital where she died three days later.

Two other charges of driving the minibus without a vocational licence and insurance coverage were taken into consideration.

Retnam's lawyer S.S. Dhillon said in mitigation that his client, who now works as an attendant at a logistics company, has recurring nightmares and suffers from mental agony and emotional turmoil since the tragic traffic accident.

He said Retnam is deeply remorseful for having caused the deaths of two people and extends his deepest regret and sympathy to the family.

Retnam could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined for causing death by negligence. For causing hurt by doing an act so negligently as to endanger the personal safety of others, he could have been jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to $2,500.