Singapore cabby pleads guilty in road accident that killed NUS undergrad student

Singapore road accident
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The 55-year-old taxi driver, who was involved in the accident which killed National University Student undergraduate Kathy Ong, aged 19, pleaded guilty on Wednesday.

The accused, Yap Kok Hua pleaded guilty to one charge of a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide and a second of causing grievous hurt to the surviving three passengers. As per the court documents, another two charges were taken into consideration.

It should be noted that under the Singapore Penal Code Section 304A, whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, can face a jail term up to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Court documents stated that Yap allegedly failed to give way to another car while turning right at the junction of Clementi Road and Commonwealth Avenue West and collided with the vehicle at around 7.30 pm on April 19, 2018. Even though the accused saw another involved car was coming at a high speed, he decided to execute the discretionary right turn anyway.

This incident caused the death of the 19-year-old NUS student and her friends, Zon Lim Thou Jung, Lim Jin Jie and Ting Jun Heng were taken to the National University Hospital, 5 Lower Kent Ridge Road as they suffered from injuries such including fractures as well as multiple lacerations and a seizure.

As per the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), one of the victims of the road accident, a 22-year-old man was trapped inside the vehicle involved in the accident but was successfully extricated using hydraulic rescue tools.

The other car, Nissan Presage, was driven by a 21-year-old Ng Li Ning, was travelling straight along Commonwealth Avenue West towards Boon Lay Way. He was unable to avoid Yap's taxi which was going at an estimated 24kmh. Both vehicles spun due to the impact and the cab hit another car which had stopped at the junction.

After the accident, a video which captured the entire incident was shared on the social media platform. It showed that Kathy Ong, who had been pursuing a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in NUS, was thrown partially out of the window from the rear seat after the collision.

However, it was revealed that the Premier Taxi cabby did not ensure that the three rear passengers had fastened their seatbelts while boarding the taxi on their way to NUS' Tembusu College.

During the court hearing, the Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh urged for at least eight weeks' jail and a five-year driving ban to be imposed. The prosecutor added that the negligence by the taxi driver claimed one life and inflicted grievous injuries on three others.

It was also revealed that Yap has a bad driving record, as he repeatedly committed traffic-related offences over 24 years from 1992 to 2016. His previous offences include careless driving, speeding and failing to conform to a red light signal.

On the other hand, the Defence lawyer Josephus Tan and Cory Wong sought for not more than six weeks of jail and a driving ban of not more than five years.

While stating that Yap had pleaded guilty, Invictus Law Corporation lawyers mentioned that the other driver had been speeding as he was going up to 97kmh on a 70kmh-limit road.

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