He was ferrying a passenger along the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) when he spotted a motorcyclist lying on the road in front of him.
Taxi driver Then Nien Fatt, 62, swerved his CityCab taxi but was unable to avoid running over Tan Ser Chuan, 57, who had earlier skidded on the expressway and landed on its extreme right lane. Instead of rendering help, Then continued driving, dropped off his passenger and then took his taxi to a workshop to have it fixed.
At the State Courts on Thursday (14 September), Then was convicted on four charges for driving carelessly, failing to stop following the accident, failing to render assistance to Tan and for perverting the course of justice by sending his taxi for repairs.
He was sentenced to five months’ jail, fined $1,000 and disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for three years. One other charge of removing his taxi without the authority of a police officer was taken into consideration for the sentencing. Tan, a Malaysian, had succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
Caught on camera
The incident took place on the morning of 11 August 2015 along the AYE in the direction of the Marina Coastal Expressway.
Sometime before 6.13am, some 5.1km after the Alexandra Road exit, Tan skidded while trying to avoid a bouncing tyre on the road and landed on the extreme right lane of the expressway. Another motorcyclist, Zahib Samad, spotted Tan lying on the road and stopped to help.
At the same time, Then, who was driving along the extreme right lane noticed Tan only when he was about two to three car lengths away. Unable to brake in time, Then swerved to the left but still ended up running over Tan. The impact of the collision pushed Tan more than 10m away from his motorcycle.
Zahib, who heard a crashing sound behind him, witnessed Then’s taxi speeding past him on the extreme right lane. He honked at Then to get the cabby to stop, but Then sped on.
Footage from the Land Transport Authority’s expressway camera showed the taxi’s headlamps jerking up and down while running over Tan. The taxi moved into the centre of the lane as it was driving away from the scene.
Covering up the evidence
After dropping off his passenger at Martin Road, Then checked his taxi for damage and noticed a missing mudguard and a slight dent on top of the vehicle’s front right tyre. He drove his taxi to a workshop in Loyang but left after finding the cost of repairs too high.
He then visited a workshop in Eunos, which fixed the dents and sprayed a fresh coat of paint over the taxi to cover up the scratches. The workshop could not replace the missing mudguard as it lacked the appropriate parts. Then did not tell the workshop how the damages came about, and also declined to lodge a report for insurance claims.
Traffic police investigating the incident relied on information provided by Zahid and the mudguard recovered from the scene in order to track down Then’s taxi, which was found at a carpark near his Buangkok Crescent residence.
The autopsy report on Tan’s injuries found that he had sustained extensive skull fractures and flap injury on the left side of his skull. He also had serious fractures on his upper torso, a ruptured heart and multiple lacerations on both lungs.
A “considerable amount of resources” had been spent on the search for Then’s vehicle, said the prosecution, which sought at least four months’ jail, a $1,000 fine and two years of disqualification for the accused.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Marshall Lim said that the impact of the collision was so great that the mudguard of the taxi fell off. He added that Then had also clearly attempted to eliminate traces of evidence to cover up his conduct. Then had also been fined for speeding on three occasions in 1996, 2003 and 2013.
His lawyer Melvin Loh said that his client regretted not rendering assistance to Tan on the day of the incident and could not explain why he did not do so. He added that Then, the main provider for his family, had become a cleaner to care for his two children, one of whom is still attending a polytechnic.
For obstructing the course of justice, Then could have been jailed up to seven years and/or fined. For driving carelessly, he could have been jailed up to six years and/or fined a maximum $1,000.
For not stopping his vehicle after an accident, he could have been jailed up to three months or fined up to $3,000. For failing to render assistance, he could have been jailed up to 12 months or fined up to $3,000.
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