SIA legal counsel collides with van and causes serious injury to friend in front seat, gets fine and ban

Elena Chong
The Straits Times
Friday, Apr 7, 2017

A legal counsel who caused hurt to her front seat passenger in a collision with a van was given the maximum fine of $2,500 and banned from driving for 10 months on Friday (April 7).

Melissa Tham Yeying, 26, admitted last Thursday to causing hurt to her colleague, Ms Tan Li Bing, by doing an act so negligently as to endanger life along Nicoll Drive on Sept 23 last year.

Both are legal assistant managers with Singapore Airlines.

She failed to keep a proper lookout and give way to a van, which had the right of way, while making a right turn into Airline Road, resulting in the collision and bodily injuries to her 27-year-old friend at 1.58pm that day.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Azri Imran Tan said Tham had lunch with Ms Tan at Changi Village and were on their way back to the office at Airline House when the accident happened.

She was driving on the extreme right lane of Nicoll Drive towards Changi Coast Road and had intended to make a right turn.

Upon reaching the signalised T-junction of Nicoll Drive and Airline Road, she executed a right turn when she saw that the traffic light was green in her favour, without checking and ensuring that the right turn arrow was green.

At the time she was making the turn, the driver of the van, Mr Tan Choon Keat, 35, was travelling straight at a moderately fast speed in the opposite direction. She did not give way to him, resulting in the van hitting the side of her car where the front left passenger seat is located.

The impact of the collision caused the car to veer right, before colliding into a sign.

Ms Tan was taken to hospital and subsequently transferred to a rehabilitation centre at Ang Mo Kio Community Hospital on Nov 9 a total of 49 days.

She suffered, among other injuries, hip and leg fractures.

DPP Tan had sought the maximum fine and at least 12 months' disqualification, given the serious nature of the injuries caused.

Tham's lawyer Gary Low said in mitigation that his client and Ms Tan are still friends, and Tham still cannot forgive herself even though the victim has forgiven her.

He said Tham is deeply remorseful and is genuinely contrite for having caused an accident which led to Ms Tan getting injured.

She visited Ms Tan regularly throughout her hospitalisation and even after she was discharged from hospital, out of continued concern for Ms Tan's health and well-being, he said.

District Judge Adam Nakhoda said that Tham's manner of driving was not as egregious as previous cases cited by the prosecution. He also said the victim's injuries in this case were "very serious".

The offence is punishable with up to six months' jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

The Straits Times

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