Fatal traffic accident: Van driver gets jail instead of fine on prosecution's appeal

David Joseph John outside the courts on Jan 25, 2017.
David Joseph John outside the courts on Jan 25, 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A van driver who was originally fined $10,000 for negligently causing the death of an elderly pedestrian was given a two-week jail term instead on Monday (Aug 28), following an appeal by the prosecution to the High Court.

David Joseph John, 62, a market stallholder, was also banned from driving for five years for failing to keep a proper lookout while he was driving along Outram Road on the evening of Nov 13, 2015.

As he was approaching a corner with a side road, his van struck 79-year-old Wong Fook Hin, who had already crossed three lanes of the five-lane road from the driver's left to right.

Mr Wong was taken to Singapore General Hospital with severe injuries. He never regained consciousness and died 10 days later.

In March, John pleaded guilty to a charge of causing Mr Wong's death by a negligent act. A second charge of causing grievous hurt to a nine-year-old cyclist in a separate traffic accident three weeks earlier was also taken into consideration for sentencing.

The district judge imposed the maximum $10,000 fine, saying that John's level of culpability did not merit a jail term. She placed weight on the fact that Mr Wong's act of jaywalking had a "direct bearing" on the driver's culpability.

On Monday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Christina Koh argued that the fine should be substituted with a jail term of between two and four weeks.

The DPP argued that the district judge had no cogent reason to depart from the High Court's ruling in a 2014 case that the starting point for a traffic death case was up to four weeks' jail.

She argued that John's degree of negligence was not affected in any way by the fact that Mr Wong had been jaywalking.