Maserati driver who dragged cop for 124m and later fled found guilty

Maserati owner Lee Cheng Yan arriving at State Courts on 24 November 2017. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)
Maserati owner Lee Cheng Yan arriving at State Courts on 24 November 2017. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — A 35-year-old man accused of driving off in a Maserati car with a police officer clinging onto the vehicle was found guilty in court of causing grievous hurt to the officer and nine other charges.

Lee Cheng Yan had denied being behind the wheel of the sports car, claiming that a person named Kelvin, who was of a similar stature and complexion, had driven it.

He had claimed trial to 10 charges - causing grievous hurt to a public servant, driving under disqualification, driving without insurance, failing to wear a seat belt, failing to stop when ordered by a policeman, failing to provide personal particulars after an accident, failing to render help after an accident, moving a vehicle after an accident, driving rashly, and obstructing the course of justice.

Another 59 charges were stood down during the trial. These include offences under the Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act, the Road Traffic Act, the Remote Gambling Act, the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, the Prevention of Corruption Act, and the Protection from Harassment Act.

Arguing for Lee to be convicted on Wednesday (4 December), the prosecution said that the defence had failed to produce Kelvin even though he was a “key cornerstone” of the defence’s argument. The defence had also remained “conspicuously silent” on Kelvin’s absence.

Calling the defence’s argument “hollow”, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Timotheus Koh said Lee had failed to prove Kelvin’s existence.

Lee had given a description of Kelvin that resembled him but it was a part of a lie that was Lee’s desperate plan to mislead the police and court, said DPP Koh.

Lee’s lawyer, S Balamurugan, said that none of the witnesses, except for one, were able to identify Lee as the Maserati driver. Even then the witness’s identification of Lee was a “fleeting glance” and through a tinted window.

“His attention was divided during the alleged identification, which would have affected ability to identify the driver,” the lawyer said.

“It is plain that the prosecution’s case against the accused is based on testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. No direct evidence pointed to the accused as the driver of Maserati,” Balamurugan said.

There was also no way the driver could have intended or known that his reversal and acceleration of the Maserati car would have resulted in the officer being dragged and injured, argued the lawyer, adding that it was the officer’s own lunge towards the car that caused the incident.

“It is submitted that the possibility of the uniform being caught, thereby sparking off the chain of events leading to the injury suffered by the officer, is simply too remote to be attributed to the driver,” the lawyer said.

Hit-and-run incident

On 17 November 2017, Lee left home and drove his Maserati to Bedok Reservoir Road just before 9pm.

At the time, Lee was under a nine-month driving ban which took effect from 4 July 2017.

At about 9.20pm, Lee drove along Bedok Reservoir Road toward Eunos Link. A traffic policeman on a patrol motorcycle saw Lee not wearing his seat belt and signalled for the driver to stop, but Lee did not comply.

As traffic came to a stop at the signalised traffic junction of Bedok Reservoir Road and Jalan Damai, the police officer stopped his bike in front of the Maserati with his blinker lights switched on.

The staff sergeant then dismounted and went up to the driver’s window of the Maserati to tell Lee to pull over to the side of the road.

Instead of complying, Lee fled by suddenly reversing the Maserati before accelerating quickly forward while the policeman was standing next to the driver-seat door. The officer’s uniform was caught on the driver-side door of the Maserati and he was dragged along with the moving vehicle.

Lee drove at speeds of between 79kmh and 84kmh for 124 metres with the officer hanging on to the car’s driver-side door. The cop eventually dislodged from the car and rolled onto the ground before passers-by went to his aid.

As Lee fled the scene, an eyewitness pursued him on a motorcycle. Lee purportedly drove rashly, beating two red lights, overtaking vehicles without signalling, and even driving against the flow of traffic.

Lee then abandoned his car along Willow Avenue near MacPherson Road. He called a friend to pick him up before heading to another friend’s home.

While there, Lee disposed of the white T-shirt he was wearing down the rubbish chute in order to evade police detection.

Lee will return to court on 14 January for his sentencing.