Zouk founder loses appeal against one-week jail

Lincoln Cheng pleaded guilty last October to one count of drink driving.
Lincoln Cheng pleaded guilty last October to one count of drink driving.

The founder of iconic nightspot Zouk, Lincoln Cheng, yesterday started serving his one-week jail term for drink driving, after the High Court dismissed his appeal against his sentence.

On Feb 15 last year, Cheng, 70, whose statutory name is Ching Ling Ka, drank two glasses of wine during dinner at Ion Orchard. While driving home at around midnight, he ran two red lights on Eu Tong Sen Street before colliding with a taxi.

The SMRT taxi mounted a kerb and hit a metal pole supporting a sheltered walkway.

Cheng was arrested at the scene after failing a breathalyser test. A further test showed that he had 43 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol in every 100ml of breath. The prescribed limit for driving is 35mcg.

In October, he pleaded guilty to one count of drink driving.

A district court sentenced him to a week in jail and banned him from driving for three years, taking into consideration another count of dangerous driving.

Yesterday, Cheng's lawyer, Mr Kesavan Nair, argued that his client was willing to accept a longer driving ban or even having his driving licence revoked, but that the one-week jail term was too harsh.

Mr Nair noted that the amount of alcohol in Cheng's breath was only 8mcg above the legal limit. Cheng had previously used valet services but on that occasion, he chose to drive himself home as he believed the alcohol had worn off.

Cheng has made full restitution of almost $21,000 to SMRT for the cost of repairing the taxi, he added.

Justice Chan Seng Onn dismissed the appeal, saying that the district judge had already considered these factors in deciding on the sentence.

Zouk was sold to casino and cruise line conglomerate Genting Hong Kong in 2015.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2018, with the headline 'Zouk founder loses appeal against one-week jail'. Print Edition | Subscribe