International school ex-teacher jailed over 2 accidents where one victim suffered spinal fracture

SINGAPORE - A former teacher, who had taught at a British international school in Malaysia, was sentenced on Monday (April 13) to 10 weeks' jail and a fine of $1,600 over two traffic incidents in Singapore.

A victim in one of the accidents, which occurred on the same day last year, suffered a spinal fracture.

Richard Alexander Cullen, 45, who worked in Marlborough College Malaysia in Johor, was also disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles here for five years after his release.

On Feb 25, the Briton pleaded guilty in a district court to three charges under the Road Traffic Act including two counts of driving without reasonable consideration.

He was the first person to be dealt with in court for such offences after amendments were made to the law last year. Errant motorists now face stiffer penalties.

Under the changes to the Road Traffic Act passed in Parliament last July, the duration of the sentences now depends on the extent of harm caused by errant motorists.

The harm caused is categorised such that death is the most severe, followed by grievous hurt, hurt and endangering life.

Previously, first-time offenders who had driven without reasonable consideration could be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $1,000.

Now, a first-time offender who causes grievous hurt while driving in such a manner can be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

Cullen had entered Singapore via the Tuas Second Link on Nov 9 last year.

He was driving a pick-up truck along Orchard Boulevard at around 9.15am the next day when the traffic lights turned red at the junction of Grange Road.

 
 

The vehicle struck the right rear portion of a private-hire car driven by Ms Tang Lee Lee, 52.

Ms Tang then stepped out of her car to ask for Cullen's particulars. Instead of alighting, he drove off when the lights turned green.

No one was injured in this accident.

The second accident happened about five minutes later as another motorist, Dr Caleb Leong, 32, was driving along Tanglin Road towards Orchard Road.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ashraf Hassan had told District Judge Lorraine Ho: "The defendant's motor pick-up suddenly veered and encroached into his lane by driving against the flow of traffic from the opposite direction at a high speed."

Dr Leong slammed on the brakes but Cullen's truck collided head-on with the car. The impact from this pushed the car back before it stopped about 20m away, said the DPP.

Court documents did not state how fast Cullen was driving at the time.

Dr Leong was taken to the Singapore General Hospital where he was found to have a fracture to his spine. He was given 48 days of hospitalisation leave, the court heard.

Defence lawyer T.M. Sinnadurai had pleaded for a lenient sentence, adding that it was "a one-off and clear case of misjudgment" on Cullen's part.

Before handing down the sentence on Monday, Judge Ho said that Dr Leong had the right of way before the accident occurred.

She also noted that the spine is a vulnerable part of the body.