Driver who rammed into pedestrian during Toa Payoh high-speed police chase pleads guilty

Vaswani Richard Prakash rammed into a pedestrian while trying to evade the police during a car chase in 2021. PHOTOS: SCREENGRABS FROM SG ROAD VIGILANTE - SGRV/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - When he saw police cars on his tail for speeding, a driver who had illicit drugs stashed in his car sped off to escape, leading to a five-minute chase down the Pan-Island Expressway.

During the chase, Vaswani Richard Prakash, 36, rammed into a pedestrian, causing her to suffer multiple injuries, and drove on. His car soon spun out of control as he turned into a slip road, causing him to knock into a police car.

The chase continued on foot and Prakash changed into clothes that were hanging at flats nearby, before taking a cab to Punggol.

The authorities mounted an islandwide manhunt and caught him on the third day.

On Wednesday, Prakash pleaded guilty to a slew of charges that include dangerous driving causing grievous hurt and driving while under disqualification.

According to court documents, Prakash, who also pleaded guilty to drug abuse and other traffic offences, committed the crimes while out on bail over earlier offences which were still being investigated.

At 11.55pm on Feb 12 last year, the police spotted Prakash speeding in a black Volkswagen along the PIE near Toa Payoh. He had taken the car from a friend without permission, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Qi Shuen.

With him were passengers Sharifah Mohamed Wasil, 33, and Muhammad Haikal Ahdam Shah, 27, who was getting a lift back to a halfway house where he stayed, as he was nearly late for his curfew.

Prakash accelerated to around 120kmh when he spotted the police on his tail, as he knew he was driving without a licence and had illicit drugs stashed in the car.

In a video recording of the chase, the Volkswagen can be seen weaving through traffic along the highway, cutting across multiple lanes at high speeds to evade the police.

Prakash turned into Toa Payoh, driving through nine red lights within three minutes as he darted through traffic. The police called for reinforcements as they chased him.

At a pedestrian crossing near Block 111 Lorong 1, Prakash beat another red light and rammed into a woman, but continued driving.

He lost control on a slip road near Toa Payoh bus interchange and collided with a road divider, before bouncing back into a police car.

A screengrab from a video showing the black Volkswagen after it crashed into a road divider along Lorong 2 Toa Payoh in 2021. PHOTO: SG ROAD VIGILANTE/FACEBOOK

Prakash and the passengers then fled in different directions on foot. Sharifah was arrested, while the other two ran off.

Prakash was arrested after a three-day manhunt, while Haikal was found after he showed up at a hospital to seek treatment due to a leg injury. Methamphetamine and other drugs were also seized from the vehicle.

The pedestrian victim suffered fractures and other leg injuries.

The chase resulted in about $9,000 in repair costs to damaged vehicles and road installations.

DPP Goh said the victim received surgery and may experience permanent knee pains as a result of the collision. She added that Prakash drove extremely dangerously, weaving in and out of traffic to evade arrest.

"It was entirely fortuitous that no further collisions or injuries resulted," she said.

The judge adjourned the case for Prakash's lawyer to finalise his mitigation plea.

Those who drive dangerously causing hurt can be jailed between one and five years.

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