Singaporean appears in New Zealand court over fatal crash

Singaporean Lew Wei Kiong, who was involved in a fatal accident while holidaying in New Zealand, has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing death.

Lew, 29, appeared before Judge Michael Crosbie in the Dunedin District Court yesterday morning, reported the Otago Daily Times.

He also pleaded not guilty to another three charges of dangerous driving causing injury.

Lew's counsel, Ms Anne Stevens, said that he would plead guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated careless driving.

If convicted, he could be fined a maximum of NZ$10,000 (S$9,200) or jailed up to three years on the lesser charge.

According to stuff.co.nz, Lew, who works as a senior analyst at the Energy Market Authority (EMA), looked upset as he left the court with his supporters.

He has been remanded on bail and is due back in court on March 10.

Lew had been on holiday with a 31-year-old female colleague in New Zealand's South Island last year, when the rental car he was driving allegedly caused a four- vehicle crash on Nov 29.

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

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

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

EMA had said on Dec 22 that Lew's colleague was still in hospital in New Zealand, nearly a month after the accident.

She has since returned to Singapore and is recovering well, an EMA spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday. "We will continue to render assistance to her and look forward to seeing her back at work," the spokesman added.

Lee Min Kok

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'S'porean appears in NZ court over fatal crash'. Print Edition | Subscribe