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The Straits Times
Apr 3, 2023
A woman who drove at excessive speeds in Tanjong Pagar, shortly before the car was involved in a fiery crash, has been fined $5,000 and disqualified from driving in Singapore for three years.
Malaysian Phoo Yi Lin, 26, admitted on Monday to driving the white BMW M4 in a dangerous manner at around 5.35am on Feb 13, 2021.
She had driven the car at average speeds of between 109kmh and 130kmh on stretches of Tanjong Pagar Road, based on footage taken from closed-circuit television cameras in the area.
Footage from the in-vehicle camera of a nearby taxi showed that the BMW’s average speed was between 125kmh and 181kmh when it was travelling towards Keppel Road.
The speed limit in the area is 50kmh.
On Monday, District Judge Salina Ishak noted that Phoo had consumed alcohol before she drove the car that morning.
The amount of alcohol she had in her body at the time was not disclosed in court.
Minutes later, at around 5.40am, the owner of the car, Mr Jonathan Long Junwei, took the wheel with four passengers. The car crashed into a shophouse pillar and burst into flames. Everyone in the car died.
Hours before the tragedy, the 29-year-old and his friends were at a Chinese New Year gathering in Ang Mo Kio, where they had alcoholic drinks.
They then left for Hong Jja Jang restaurant in Tanjong Pagar Road, where they continued drinking. Their friend, Mr Park Se Jin, ran the restaurant.
According to witnesses, Mr Long showed his new BMW to his friends.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jia En said: “The idea to test-drive the car materialised.
“(Phoo) informed investigators that at some point, Mr Long said he ‘intended to show them how to drive the car’ and that the group all wanted to test-drive the car.
“The accused also recounted to investigators that Mr Long was ‘very persuasive’ and insisted on competing to see who could drive the car faster.”
The first in the group to take the car for a spin was Mr Eugene Yap Zheng Min, 29. He drove it from the restaurant towards Keppel, making a U-turn in Enggor Street.
He then drove along Tanjong Pagar Road towards Maxwell Road before stopping near the eatery. He drove at speeds of between 75kmh and 88kmh.
During a 2022 coroner’s inquiry into the fatal crash, the court heard that Mr Yap had 119mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, which exceeded the legal limit of 80mg per 100ml.
Mr Park then drove the car at speeds of up to 59kmh along the same route..
Phoo took over the wheel and also drove along the route.
Mr Long was the fourth driver, and four of his friends – Mr Yap, Mr Wilson Teo Qi Xiang, 26, Mr Elvin Tan Yong Hao, 28, and Mr Gary Wong Hong Chieh, 29 – joined him in the vehicle.
The car had designated seats only for the driver and three passengers.
Mr Long clocked speeds of up to 182kmh before the fatal crash. The car’s airbags did not deploy in the accident.
Mr Long’s fiancee, former air stewardess Raybe Oh Siew Huey, then 26, tried to help them and was badly burned.
She spent four months in Singapore General Hospital and needed multiple reconstructive operations.
During the coroner’s inquiry, Traffic Police investigator Muhammad Firdaus Suleiman testified that Mr Long, Mr Yap and Mr Tan died of severe burns.
Mr Teo died of severe burns and a spinal injury, while Mr Wong died of severe burns and pelvic injuries.
On Monday, DPP Tay urged the court to sentence Phoo to the maximum fine of $5,000, stressing that there was a cyclist and at least two pedestrians in the area when she was driving the car.
Defence lawyer Sunil Sudheesan said that Phoo, who lives in Malaysia, was very sorry for what she had done and had returned to Singapore in February to help with investigations into the case.