Motorist gets jail, 5-year ban for causing two deaths

The minibus he was driving crashed into a motorcycle, killing an elderly couple

A motorist who crashed into a motorcycle, killing the rider and his pillion-riding wife, was jailed for eight weeks yesterday and banned from driving for five years.

Nigel John Retnam, 22, had been driving a friend's minibus and was on his way to visit family members when he hit delivery rider Wong Sang Min, 63, and his 60-year-old wife, Madam Ng Soo Kiew.

The impact of the collision sent their motorcycle crashing into the back of a car and flung the couple off the machine.

Mr Wong was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife died three days later.

Retnam admitted causing their deaths through his negligence at about 2.30pm on July 19 last year.

He also admitted causing hurt to Madam Zaharah Haji Mohamed Yasir, 41, who was in the front passenger seat of the car.

Madam Zaharah was hurt when the car, driven by her 46-year-old husband, surged forward and caused her to hit the dashboard.

Retnam had borrowed the 11-seater vehicle from a friend and was on his way to visit his family. He was jailed for eight weeks.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong said that Retnam, then a full-time national serviceman, had borrowed the 11-seater minibus to visit his father at the Institute of Mental Health and his sister in Yishun.

The court heard that Retnam had not been keeping a proper lookout before the accident, which occurred as he was driving along Yishun Avenue 2 towards Canberra Link.

Two other charges of driving the minibus without a vocational licence and insurance coverage were taken into consideration.

Retnam's lawyer S.S. Dhillon said in mitigation that his client had been suffering from nightmares and "mental agony" since the accident.

He said Retnam ws deeply remorseful for having caused the deaths of two people and extended his deepest regret and sympathy to the family.

DPP Ong, who sought a sentence of at least eight to 10 weeks' jail and a driving ban, said there was "absolutely no reason" for Retnam to drive the minibus as there were clearly alternative transport options.

Retnam could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined for causing death by negligence.

For the other offences, he could have been jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to $2,500.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2016, with the headline 'Motorist gets jail, 5-year ban for causing two deaths'. Print Edition | Subscribe