Cabby jailed and banned for causing man's death at pedestrian crossing

Ng Chee Poh pleaded guilty to failing to keep a proper lookout while making a left turn from Orchard Road into Buyong Road at 3.28am on June 5, 2016.
Ng Chee Poh pleaded guilty to failing to keep a proper lookout while making a left turn from Orchard Road into Buyong Road at 3.28am on June 5, 2016.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A taxi driver who caused the death of a pedestrian at a traffic junction through his negligence has received a higher-than-usual jail term and also a driving ban for five years on Monday (Feb 20).

In sentencing Ng Chee Poh to six weeks' jail, District Judge Samuel Chua felt that where an accident occurred at a signalised pedestrian crossing where the light was in the pedestrian's favour, there should be an upward calibration of the benchmark sentence.

The benchmark is up to four weeks' jail for fatal traffic accident, depending on facts of each case.

Ng, 63, pleaded guilty to failing to keep a proper lookout while making a left turn from Orchard Road into Buyong Road at 3.28am on June 5 last year (2016).

His cab hit Mr Sebastian Kae Sze Chieh, 31, who was crossing the road on a "green man'' signal.

The court heard that Ng had picked up two passengers at Chinatown at about 3.10am that day. After one of the passengers alighted at Oxley Road, he proceeded to send the other passenger to Joo Chiat via the Central Expressway.

He stopped his taxi on the extreme left lane of Orchard Road as the traffic light was red.

Mr Kae was then waiting to cross the signalised pedestrian crossing along Buyong Road.

Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) Lim Yu Hui said there were no vehicles infront of Ng's cab, and he had a clear view of Mr Kae.

When the traffic light turned green, Ng proceeded to make the left turn into the centre lane of Buyong Road.

He failed to keep a proper lookout and the taxi struck Mr Kae, who was thrown up onto the taxi's bonnet and his head hit the windscreen before he fell to the ground.

Mr Kae died from severe head injury in hospital about 81/2 hours later.

Besides six gaming convictions, Ng had a conviction for inconsiderate driving in 2013.

APP Lim, who sought a sentence of four weeks' jail plus disqualification, said that the deceased was wearing a light-coloured shirt, and there was no reason for Ng not to have noticed him.

She said Mr Kae had the right of way, and the onus was on Ng to check for pedestrians before he made the left turn.

Ng's lawyer Seo Yong Chern said that her client was deeply remorseful, and has been suffering from "mental agony and emotional turmoil '' since the accident.

She said Ng is undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and is continuing with the treatment.

Ng could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined for causing death by negligence.