SINGAPORE — A lorry driver whose altercation with a British cyclist in Pasir Ris last December was caught on video, claimed that he had driven towards the latter in order to avoid a collision with a taxi.
Teo Seng Tiong, 58, is claiming trial to one charge of causing hurt to cyclist Eric Cheung Hoyu on 22 December last year through a rash act, and one charge of failing to make a police report within 24 hours of the incident.
The video of the altercation has been viewed over 3 million times and shared over 29,000 times.
Cheung, 36, was fined $2,800 on 12 April over one charge of mischief and one count of contravening the Road Traffic Rules by failing to ride in a safe and orderly manner.
Both parties had been driving along Pasir Ris Drive 3 towards New Loyang Link.
In videos shown in court, Cheung and a fellow cyclist, Nigel William Harper, can be seen cycling on the leftmost lane of the two lane road. While Harper stays mostly to the side of the lane, Cheung drives close to the centre, at one point blocking Teo’s blue lorry.
After crossing a junction, Cheung is seen hitting the lorry’s left wing mirror, causing it to break off and land on the road. Shortly after, the lorry swerves to the left, towards Cheung’s bicycle. Cheung is then seen falling off the bicycle and rolling onto the grass verge.
At the time, a red taxi driven by Ong Joo Kim was also travelling just to the right of the lorry.
On Monday, Teo’s lawyer Chia Boon Teck told the first witness, Investigation Officer Jeff Tan Jun Yan, that his client swerved in the direction of Cheung because he heard a honk coming from the taxi on his right. Teo then allegedly heard a “crushing sound”, which he thought came from contact with the taxi.
“So he instinctively swerved to the left,” said the lawyer, who added that there was no contact between the lorry and the bicycle despite the swerving.
“When my client swerved towards the cyclist, the cyclist managed to jump off his bicycle and there was never any physical contact between the lorry and the bicycle,” said Chia.
Tan, however, said that it was his first time hearing such an account.
Ong, who also took the stand, testified that he remembered honking at Teo but could not recall the precise moment he did so. He also told the court that there was no contact between his taxi and the lorry.
Harper, Cheung’s fellow cyclist, testified that he first noted Teo’s lorry two to three junctions before the incident. He told Cheung to be cautious as he noticed that Teo’s lorry was “seeking to change lanes”.
After the light turned green at the junction, Harper moved off ahead of Cheung and then heard a crushing noise.
“I looked over my shoulder and saw Eric falling and rolling onto the grass verge and the van angling towards grass verge,” said Harper, who then stopped cycling and went to Cheung’s assistance.
Cheung was shaken and very surprised, said Harper. Cheung was later diagnosed with a strain in his spine and shoulder.
After Cheung fell over, Teo pulled up his lorry by the side of the road and spoke to the two cyclists. “He was upset and quite angry at the fact that mirror has been broken, that was really the focus,” said Harper, adding that he did not seem concerned about Cheung but repeatedly pointed at his damaged wing mirror.
In another video shown in court, the three men were seen standing on the grass verge, with Teo pointing his mobile phone at Cheung. Cheung is then seen taking away Teo’s phone before returning it to him shortly after.
Harper said that he and Cheung were both surprised when Teo re-entered his lorry and drove away. “We all understood that we were not supposed to be leaving the scene. I was surprised, which was why I took my phone out and took photo of the (lorry),” he said.
Cross-examining Harper, Chia said that his client had difficulty communicating with the two cyclists as they both spoke English. In response, Harper said the difficulty was on both sides.
“The reason why my client drove off was because he thought that (Cheung) was not injured and (Cheung) did not have his particulars or did not want to exchange particulars,” said Chia. Harper replied that he could not account for Teo’s actions.
The trial continues.