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The Straits Times
Oct 27, 2023
A man who killed a Gojek driver and injured six others while driving a Mercedes-Benz drunk was sentenced to seven years’ jail on Friday.
At one point, he was driving at a speed of between 157kmh and 169kmh even though the speed limit on the road he was on is 60kmh.
On Dec 23, 2021, Jeremiah Ng En You, 35, was driving his twin brother’s car in Tampines when he ploughed into several vehicles that had stopped at a red light.
Ng had 42 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The prescribed limit is 35 mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.
He had pleaded guilty in May to one count of drink driving and another for causing the 59-year-old Gojek driver’s death by driving in a dangerous manner.
Three other charges were taken into consideration during his sentencing on Friday.
Ng will also be disqualified from driving for 12 years after his release.
Six people were injured in the accident that involved three other cars, a taxi and a motorcycle.
Before sentencing him, District Judge Salina Ishak said this was a tragic and horrific case, and agreed with the prosecution that the accident was one of the worst in recent memory.
The judge highlighted amendments made to the Road Traffic Act in 2019 meant to deter irresponsible driving.
She said: “It was observed that irresponsible driving can have deadly consequences. Even if the victims survive the accident, they or their families may suffer long-term problems, sometimes medical, sometimes permanent disabilities.
“The present case is one such case which clearly illustrates the devastating effect of the deadly combination of dangerous driving while under the influence of alcohol.”
She said a clear signal must be sent to motorists who have a blatant disregard for the safety of other road users that they would be punished by sentences at the higher region of the sentencing range envisaged by Parliament.
She added: “Although the accused had been driving and travelling on the same route home six days a week for the last 12 years and was extremely familiar with the roads, it is not a licence for him to treat our roads like the Grand Prix driving circuit by driving at such excessive speeds while under the influence of alcohol.”
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sheldon Lim said in court documents that before the accident – between 7pm and 10pm that night – Ng had dinner with his brother and two friends at his office in Tampines Street 93, where he drank four cans of beer.
At about 11pm, the brothers left the office and Ng got behind the wheel, while his brother sat in the front passenger seat.
Ng was speeding as he drove along Tampines Avenue 1 at around 11.10pm. The vehicle was initially travelling at between 157kmh and 169kmh even though the speed limit there is 60kmh.
As he approached a junction, Ng slowed down to between 122kmh and 130kmh. He was about to turn left into Tampines Avenue 10 when he lost control of the vehicle.
DPP Lim said the car was travelling at between 92km and 108kmh when it ploughed into a centre divider. It struck the right side of the car driven by the Gojek driver, which had stopped at the junction due to a red light. He had two passengers.
The private-hire car then struck the right side of a second car and the front of a third car.
Photo: SG Road Vigilante - SGRV/Facebook
A motorcycle was passing between the Gojek car and the second car at the time, and the 25-year-old motorcyclist was crushed between both vehicles. The second car also hit the right side of a nearby taxi.
The police were alerted at around 11.10pm, and officers found Ng reeking of alcohol. After failing a breathalyser test, he was arrested and taken to the Traffic Police headquarters in Ubi Avenue 3.
The prosecutor added that, following the accident, the Gojek driver was taken to Changi General Hospital (CGH) and was pronounced dead at 12.01am the next day.
One of his passengers, a 24-year-old man, had two pieces of glass removed from his face.
The other male passenger, who was then 25, escaped with a mild head injury and several wounds.
The motorcyclist, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and multiple fractures, was hospitalised for 66 days.
The driver of the second car, a 39-year-old man, suffered bruises and was given three days’ medical leave after going to CGH.
The taxi driver, a 42-year-old man who complained of pain in his right hand, went to a private clinic and was given five days’ medical leave.
DPP Lim had asked the court to sentence Ng to eight to 10 years’ jail and disqualify him from driving for 12 years.
Ng’s lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, had asked the court for a sentence of between four years and four years and six months’ jail, leaving the length of driving disqualification up to the court.
For dangerous driving causing death, an offender can be jailed for between two and eight years as a first-time offender. If the offender is a serious offender, he can be jailed between one year and two years more.
The penalties for drink driving for a first-time offender are a jail term of up to 12 months, a fine of between $2,000 and $10,000, or both.
Offenders may also face driving bans.
District Judge Salina noted that apart from the seven victims, there were other passengers nearby, including Ng’s brother and three passengers in the second car. They were the driver’s wife and their two children, who were six and nine years old at the time.
“It is only fortuitous that no one else was hurt,” said the judge.