A lorry driver, who was part of a traffic incident in 2018, was sentenced to jail for seven weeks and slapped with a two-year driving ban.
On Tuesday (14 January), 59-year-old Teo Seng Tiong was found guilty for causing hurt to a cyclist by rash driving. He was also fined S$500 for failing to make a police report within 24 hours following the Pasir Ris road rage incident.
On 22 December 2018, Teo along with a cyclist, British national Eric Cheung Hoyu, were involved in an altercation. This resulted in Teo intruding into the path of a taxi on his right, hence causing him to swerve left and collided into Cheung.
Last April, the cyclist was fined S$2,800 after he pleaded guilty to two charges of committing mischief by knocking off the side mirror of Teo’s lorry with his hand, and for not cycling in an orderly and careful manner based on the traffic regulations.
A video of the incident were uploaded online and it went viral, with many discussions arised on which party was at fault.
Teo said that he had “swerved instinctively” into the cyclist’s lane because he thought he had hit a taxi.
The lorry driver’s lawyer Chia Boon Teck told the court that his client intends to appeal against both his conviction and sentence.
Pending the appeal, Teo is still out on bail, which was increased by S$1,000 to S$6,000.
Mr Chia emphasised during mitigation that the cyclist played a “leading role” in the road rage incident by inconsiderately hogging the road, intentionally ignoring motorists who were attempting to overtake him.
Apart from that, the lawyer also said that Eric took the law on his own hands by hitting the side mirror of Teo’s lorry.
“Given that the cyclist who caused the entire incident was sentenced only to a fine of S$2,800 for his leading role in the traffic incident, the above sentencing position is fair and just,” argued Mr Chia, in an attempt to ask for a lighter custodial sentence of less than two weeks and a driving ban of below six months for his client.
Prosecution asks for higher sentence
Separately, the prosecution has requested that the jail time to be increased to 10 weeks, three-year driving ban and a fine, pointing out that Teo was the first to show aggression towards the cyclist for blocking his lane.
“He tried to overtake the cyclist despite it being unsafe to do so, and then intimidating the cyclist by driving very close to him. It was in this context that the cyclist struck the accused’s side view mirror,” said Deputy Public Prosecutors Gabriel Choong and Zhou Yang.
They added, “The cyclist’s actions should not be condoned and he has been dealt with in accordance with the law. However, the accused’s retaliation was entirely disproportionate. The damage to the mirror amounted to S$15, but the accused reacted by endangering the cyclist’s life.”
“In balancing the cyclist’s conduct against the accused’s response, no mitigation weight should be accorded on account of provocation, especially given that it was the accused who first drove aggressively.”
Despite asking for stiffer penalties, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt gave a lower sentence, stating that the prosecution “had not given sufficient consideration to the deliberate and provocative acts of the cyclist in first blocking the accused then breaking the side mirror, notwithstanding that the accused’s reaction was disproportionate”.
The prosecution also laid out other offences that Teo had previously committed during the hearing. In the 1990s, Teo was declared guilty for voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means, committing an obscene act and causing affray.
Additionally, he was also convicted for insulting the modesty of a woman and voluntarily causing hurt, in 2007 and 2012 respectively.
From 1999 to 2015, the court heard that he was guilty of a series of traffic offences which include, speeding, failing to give way to another vehicle, careless driving and failing to conform to a red-light signal.