E-scooter rider jailed for knocking down 6-year-old boy along park connector, causing grievous hurt

Neo Wei Chia, 42, pleaded guilty to causing grievous hurt by doing a negligent act endangering the personal safety of others by failing to keep a proper lookout. (Photo: Getty)
Neo Wei Chia, 42, pleaded guilty to causing grievous hurt by doing a negligent act endangering the personal safety of others by failing to keep a proper lookout. (Photo: Getty)

SINGAPORE — An e-scooter rider knocked down a six-year-old boy along the Punggol Park Connector in April last year, causing the victim a skull fracture and hearing loss in one ear, a court heard.

At the State Courts on Thursday (7 November), the perpetrator Neo Wei Chia, 42, was sentenced to five days’ jail.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of causing grievous hurt by doing a negligent act endangering the personal safety of others, by failing to keep a proper lookout while riding his e-scooter.

On 12 April last year, at about 6.30pm, the victim’s grandmother rode a bicycle with the victim sitting at the rear. The bicycle kept to the left side of the park connector.

Victim crossed suddenly, accused didn’t slow down

As the bicycle approached the Riversails Condominium in Upper Serangoon Crescent, the victim told his grandmother that he wanted to disembark and did so. The grandmother continued to cycle ahead while the victim ran along the left side of the park connector.

Deputy Public Prosecutor R. Arvindren told Principal District Judge Ong Hian Sun, “At the same time, the accused was riding an electric scooter speedily on the right side of the said park connector. The accused had a clear view of the path which the victim was running on. However, the accused did not slow down.”

The victim then suddenly crossed over from the left side of the park connector to the right. Neo failed to keep a proper lookout for the victim who was ahead of him, and applied the brakes only when the victim was directly in front of the e-scooter.

But it was too late. The e-scooter crashed into the back of the victim. The collision caused both Neo and the victim to fall onto the ground.

The victim was bleeding from the left ear. He was sent to the emergency department of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, where scans showed a skull fracture involving the left temporal bone. The victim also had pneumocephalus, or gas within the skull, which may happen after head trauma.

He also had moderate hearing loss in the left ear and abrasions over his body. He was given two weeks of hospitalisation leave. DPP Arvindren told the court that the victim has since fully recovered from his injuries.

‘Urgent need to make pedestrian paths safer’

The prosecutor asked for at least one week’s imprisonment, proportionate to Neo’s culpability and the victim’s injuries. He noted that Neo had helped the victim after the accident and also called for an ambulance.

Pedestrian safety is of paramount importance, said DPP Arvindren. “The recent spate of accidents involving personal mobility devices (PMDs) knocking down hapless pedestrians or members of the public would indicate to the courts that such negligent riding offences are prevalent.”

Noting that Parliament earlier this week discussed the issue of pedestrian safety vis-a-vis PMDs, the prosecutor added that “there is an urgent need to make pedestrian paths safer for all users”.

He said, “there must be a sufficient measure of deterrence to ensure that PMD users who share the same space as pedestrians take extra care to ensure that they are doing so in a lawful and safe manner”.

In mitigation, Neo’s lawyer K. Jayakumar Naidu said his client had been maintaining his lane when the victim suddenly “dashed across his right of way”.

“As this was quite instantaneous, the accused was unable to stop the e-scooter on time,” said the lawyer. He added that Neo had offered to compensate for the victim’s injuries and pleaded guilty early due to a “deep sense of remorse”.

Jayakumar also asked for a week’s jail, saying his client would not be able to afford any fine imposed.

The maximum punishment for causing grievous hurt by a negligent act endangering the personal safety of others is up to two years’ jail, along with a fine of up to $5,000.

On Monday, in the wake of a rise in the number of accidents involving e-scooters and pedestrians, along with stronger calls from the public for the ban of such devices on shared spaces, the government announced that e-scooters would no longer be allowed on footpaths.

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