$5,000 fine, driving ban for causing boy's partial paralysis

Ex-delivery driver tailgated car boy was in at 80kmh before crash

A seven-year-old boy is now paralysed on the right side of his body because Lai Kum Tai, 40, tailgated the car the boy was in while driving on the Seletar Expressway (SLE).

The boy spent four months in hospital after the accident on June 11, 2014, when he was just five years old.

He suffered grievous injuries and a neurological report showed he suffered post-traumatic brain injury, which left him with permanent paralysis on the right side of his body.

Yesterday, Lai was in court to admit to a charge of endangering life through a negligent act. The boy cannot walk without difficulty for life. Lai cannot drive for three years.

On top of his ban from driving, the former delivery driver also got the maximum fine of $5,000.

Lai had failed to keep a proper lookout while driving at 80kmh along the SLE.

He was tailgating and only one car length behind the car the boy was in. The boy's father, then 44, was driving the car. His wife, also 44, was a passenger.

The boy's grandmother was in the front passenger seat.

When the boy's father hit the brakes, Lai didn't have enough time to react and crashed into the boy's car. The accident caused the boy's car to surge forward and it hit the back of another car. The boy's car eventually stopped near the centre guard railing.

The boy's mother was also hurt in the accident. Lai was slapped with another charge of causing hurt to her but it was taken into consideration.

Lai's lawyer, Mr Anil Singh Sandhu, said it was an unfortunate accident that arose because of his client's momentary lapse in concentration.

He said his client had sufficient space to swerve to the left to take evasive action but was prevented from doing so because a motorcyclist was travelling close behind between the lanes. He said that Lai, a widower, is supporting his teenage daughter and still repaying debts to banks.

District Judge Low Wee Ping told Lai that what he had done was tailgating and that he was fortunate not to have been charged with rash driving. He said the injuries Lai caused to the boy were significant. He hoped that the case would deter others from tailgating on expressways at such a high speed.

He allowed Lai to pay $2,500 first and the balance by Jan 19.

Lai could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000 for causing grievous hurt by doing an act so negligently as to endanger life.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2016, with the headline '$5,000 fine, driving ban for causing boy's partial paralysis'. Print Edition | Subscribe