Man who took rap for daughter in traffic accident did it out of 'fatherly love', given 4 months' jail

Christine Tan
The Straits Times
August 11, 2023

The father who took the rap for his daughter after she caused a traffic accident while driving without a licence was sentenced to four months’ jail on Friday.

David Ong, 57, pleaded guilty to three charges, including two counts of perverting the course of justice.

For allowing his daughter, Audrey Ong Hui Ling, 27, to drive his Grab rental car without an insurance policy, he was fined $500 and disqualified from holding or obtaining all classes of driving licences for a year.

Another charge of allowing her to drive the car without a valid driver’s licence was taken into consideration during sentencing.

The father was working as a Grab driver at the time of the accident. His defence lawyer, Mr S.S. Dhillon, said he took the rap for his daughter out of fatherly love.

Said Mr Dhillon: “As a father, all he wanted was to protect his daughter. (Those) were his noble intentions, which had criminal consequences.”

To this, District Judge Kenneth J. Chin said: “While the defence’s argument of the accused committing the offence out of paternal love may be attractive at first blush, the ends cannot justify the means.”

The judge said Ong’s method of protecting his daughter was a misguided one. Instead of teaching his daughter to face the consequences of her actions and supporting her through the process, he had instead instigated her to lie to the authorities and perverted the course of justice, said the judge.

On Oct 15, 2019, Ong had let his daughter drive the car he had rented for his job. He was her passenger.

At about 10pm, his daughter made a U-turn in Tampines Avenue 2 without stopping to check for oncoming traffic and collided with a motorcyclist who was going straight and had right of way. The motorcyclist had multiple injuries, including a fractured wrist.

Ong immediately told his daughter he would take her place and assume responsibility for what had happened. She agreed, and he told police officers he was the driver of the car.

He maintained the false account in his police statements, claiming that his negligence and fatigue from working long hours caused the accident.

In September 2020, while still maintaining that lie, he pleaded guilty to a charge of causing grievous hurt by a negligent act that endangers life or the personal safety of others, and was jailed for five days.

But the lie was exposed more than 2½ years later, when lawyers engaged by the victim to make a civil claim in April 2022 alerted the police to the audio recording of Ong’s in-car camera. It revealed a conversation the father and daughter had, about him taking the rap.

They later confessed to the police.

Ong admitted he was coaching his daughter on driving as she had only a valid driver’s licence from the United States, and was used to a left-hand-drive vehicle.

He said he took the fall because he did not want his daughter to suffer the consequences, as she was still young.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jean Goh disagreed with the defence that Ong committed the acts out of pure paternal love. She said that by covering for his daughter, he could also evade the criminal consequences of allowing his daughter to drive the car without a licence and an insurance policy.

The DPP called for a jail term of between four and six months, along with a fine and disqualification period.

In June, Audrey Ong was sentenced to 17 weeks’ jail after pleading guilty to four charges, including perverting the course of justice.

For her offence of causing grievous hurt by a negligent act, she will also be disqualified from driving for two years from her date of release.

The Straits Times

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