Ex-cabby gets 10 months' jail for causing fatal accident after taking medications that cause drowsiness

Desmond Tan Tat Siong had pleaded guilty on Dec 12 to causing a motorcyclist's death by performing a rash act. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A former taxi driver was sentenced to 10 months' jail on Friday (Dec 27) for causing a fatal traffic accident after taking medications known to cause drowsiness.

Desmond Tan Tat Siong, 34, was also disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for six years.

The Singaporean pleaded guilty on Dec 12 to causing a motorcyclist's death by performing a rash act.

Tan had said that shortly before the accident on Sept 19 last year, he had a "severe headache" and went to his girlfriend's home. Court documents did not state its location.

He then took two Anarex pills prescribed to her.

The prescription-only medicine contains orphenadrine, a skeletal muscle relaxant used to relieve pain and discomfort.

Tan also consumed some of his own cough syrup.

Orphenadrine, along with codeine, dihydrocodeine and pseudoephedrine, were later found in his bloodstream.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Yen Seow had said: "All these drugs are certified to have dangerous side effects, such as drowsiness, confusion, blurred or double vision, sleepiness... anxiety, nausea and restlessness."

Tan later drove a taxi along Sungei Kadut Avenue at around 3.50pm that day. There were no passengers in the cab.

Despite signs in the area telling motorists to slow down, he was driving at speeds of up to 72kmh in the 60kmh zone.

He lost control of the taxi, which mounted a centre divider before hitting a motorcycle and a lorry.

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The Malaysian motorcyclist, carpenter Chong Ah Hee, 57, landed on a nearby pavement and the lorry ran over him.

He was pronounced dead at the scene about 20 minutes later.

Tan, who suffered a minor head injury and wounds on his hands, was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

A doctor who attended to him found no signs that he had a blackout before the accident.

DPP Tan had told District Judge Brenda Tan: "Rash driving and driving under the influence of drugs are social menaces that must be sternly deterred.

"The prosecution submits that a strong signal must be sent to emphasise that such irresponsible, deplorable and reckless conduct will not be tolerated."

For causing Mr Chong's death by driving in a rash manner, the former cabby could have been jailed for up to five years and fined.

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