Jail for drunken joyrider who caused crash and fled scene

SINGAPORE - After a few beers with a friend, Theepan Jeyaraj decided to steal a van from his previous employer and take it for a joyride.

He crashed it into a lorry - injuring its driver - then tried to flee the scene by catching a taxi, even though he did not have enough money to pay for it.

The 23-year-old was jailed for almost six months on Tuesday (March 27), after pleading guilty to five offences - drink driving, driving without a licence, driving without insurance, failing to stop after an accident and theft of a vehicle.

Three other offences were considered during sentencing. He was also fined $1,100 and banned from the road for three years from when he finishes his prison stint.

Jeyaraj had been drinking with Mr K Aadesh near the premises of his former employer ICO Asiapacific at Loyang Crescent on September 15, 2016, when he decided to take the company's van for a joyride.

He knew that the ignition key was always left in the van and that the padlock chaining the gates of the oil and petroleum company's yard was loose.

Jeyaraj took control of the van with Aadesh as his passenger. Around 4am the next morning he collided with a lorry at a junction when he did not have right of way.

The lorry's driver suffered a headache from the accident and needed five days of medical leave, and both vehicles were dented, the court heard.

Jeyaraj and Mr Adesh hailed a taxi and fled but later instructed the driver to stop when they realised they did not have enough for the fare. The cabby waved at a nearby police van for help.

Officers breathalysed Jeyaraj, who was almost twice the prescribed driving limit. Investigations revealed Jeyaraj did not have a valid driving licence and therefore no valid insurance. He also had antecedents of theft dating back to 2012, for which he was given probation.

District Judge Marvin Bay sentenced Jeyaraj to four months in jail for the theft with a further six weeks for drink-driving. He said: "(Jeyaraj's) course of actions - of a heavily inebriated individual, stealing a heavy vehicle on a whim, driving dangerously during his joyride, and finally precipitating an accident - have the potential to wreak havoc on our roads, with possible tragic outcomes."

Mr Aadesh was not charged in relation to the case.

For stealing a motor vehicle, Jeyaraj could have faced up to seven years in jail.

janlee@sph.com.sg