Netizens question S’pore judiciary system: One-week jail for cyclist for causing death of a pedestrian after a collision, but 20-days jail for an e-scooter rider who injuring LTA officer from the crash?

A Finnish cyclist was sentenced to one week’s jail after he collided into a 53-year-old pedestrian, causing his death.

The cyclist, Toni Timo Salminen, 42, was handed down the sentence on Thursday (10 December) after he pleaded guilty to causing the death of Chew Fook Yew by a negligent act.

According to the court documents, the fatal collision took place near the junction of Sims Avenue and Lorong 33 Geylang on 1 October last year at around 6.18pm, as reported by Mothership.sg.

It noted that Mr Salminen was cycling on the second lane from the right of the four-road lane along Sims Avenue while Mr Chew was standing on the footpath on the left side of Sims Avenue and stepped onto the left-most lane to cross the road.

Mr Salminen was about 40 to 50 metres away from Mr Chew when he noticed Mr Chew step onto the road.

As he saw Mr Chew “walking briskly” onto the third lane from the right, he did not brake to slow down at that point.

Continuing to cycle forward, Mr Salminen said he failed to notice that Mr Chew was walking into the lane where he was cycling and when he saw Mr Chew was on the second lane, he rang his bell and jammed his brakes, causing Mr Chew to turn towards him.

Mr Salminen, however, could not stop the bicycle in time and collided into Mr Chew, who fell backwards onto the road while Mr Salminen flung off his bicycle and onto the road.

After the collision, Mr Salminen attended to Mr Chew who was lying motionless on the road and waited until the ambulance arrived before leaving the scene.

He then filed a police report on the accident at 7.08 pm that day.

Mr Chew suffered from head injuries due to the collision and was pronounced dead on 6 Oct last year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Rimplejit Kaur asked for a sentence of at least three weeks’ jail term, noting that Mr Salminen had “an unobstructed view” of the entire process of Mr Chew crossing the road.

Noting that the deceased was not “jaywalking”, the prosecutor said: “This is not a case where the deceased suddenly dashed onto the road, suddenly appeared onto the road from an obscured position, suddenly stopped while crossing the road, suddenly turned back while crossing the road, hesitated or lingered while crossing the road or suddenly bent down to pick up something while crossing the road.”

Adding to that, the accused did not brake to slow down until the deceased was already in his lane despite that he admitted that he saw Mr Chew on the road.

Meanwhile, the defence counsel asked for a S$6,000 fine and a disqualification period, reasoning that Mr Salminen was trying to avoid another pedestrian standing in the first lane and there was also a vehicle to his left, as reported by TODAY online.

He added that Mr Salminen has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, and has not ridden a bicycle since the accident.

Giving his judgement for the case, District Judge Christopher Goh said that by reviewing over 240 cases of causing death by a negligent act, fines were imposed in only eight per cent of them, where most of the deceased are significantly contributing to their own deaths and the accused caused the deaths of their loved ones or friends.

The judge also found no significant contributory negligence on the deceased’s part, hence a custodial sentence was warranted.

“While I can understand that a cyclist would be more inclined to concentrate on the road ahead by the nature of riding a bicycle, nonetheless, it cannot be an excuse of not keeping a proper lookout for other road users, including and, in particular, pedestrians,” the judge noted.

He continued, “I’m sure this will be on your mind for a very long time. What is done is done.”

For offences of causing death by a negligent act, Mr Salminen could face a maximum penalty of a fine and jail for up to two years or both.

Another man was jailed 20 days for crashing e-scooter into two LTA officer

Separately, a 41-year-old man was jailed for 20 days for crashing his e-scooter into a Land Transport Authority (LTA) officers at high speed.

It was reported by TODAY online that the offender failed to heed the instructions of two LTA officers who asked him to stop from riding his non-compliant e-scooter, and then rode his 31.4kg e-scooter at high speed towards one officer, causing the officer flung to the ground several metres away.

Aanother officer’s wrist was knocked by the handlebar of e-scooter when he attempted to hold on to the e-scooter but was pushed away by the offender forcibly.

The offender has pleaded guilty to one charge each of committing a rash act that endangered personal safety or lives, and riding a non-compliant personal mobility device.

Netizens’ reaction

Penning their comments on the Facebook page of Mothership.sg, The New Paper and TODAY -– who covered the news –- the netizens voiced disappointment with the sentence given to the cyclist who caused the death of a man.

They said that compared to the e-scooter rider who injuring an officer and was jailed 20 days, the one-week of jail was too light for causing death.

Some even alleged whether there is a different treatment in giving out the sentence between foreigners and locals.

Many netizens also criticised Singapore’s judiciary system for handing down what they viewed as an “unjustified” and “light punishment”  – one-week jail – to the accused who caused the death of a man.

“1 death =  1-week jail. I seriously think there are flaws in our law…” a netizen wrote.

Some netizens called for the authorities to impose heavy punishment on cyclists who act “recklessly” on the road to deter more from causing the loss of lives.

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