SINGAPORE — An error by a court officer led to a 59-year-old convict having to serve two days’ extra behind bars, the State Courts said on Wednesday (2 September).
In a media statement, the State Courts said it “deeply regret what has happened”. The courts have also sent a letter of apology to the man, Teo Seng Tiong, via the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
An internal review is underway, it added.
Teo, a lorry driver, was involved in a highly publicised altercation with cyclist Eric Cheung Hoyu along Pasir Ris Drive 3 in December 2018. A video of the incident uploaded online has since been viewed over 3 million times.
After a trial, Teo was convicted of causing hurt to Cheung through a rash act and for failing to report the accident to the police within 24 hours.
On 14 January, he was sentenced to seven weeks’ jail, a $500 fine, and also banned from driving for two years. The default jail term for failing to pay the fine was three days.
Teo lodged an appeal, which the High Court dismissed on 20 July. He then paid his fine at the High Court and started serving his seven-week jail term that day.
The State Courts said that it was informed by the High Court of the fine payment that same day.
“However, the State Courts officer in charge of the case erroneously failed to update the Warrant of Commitment and the State Courts’ case management system to reflect that the fine had been paid,” it said.
While the default jail term was three days, Teo served two days’ jail due to a one-third remission granted by the Singapore Prison Service for good behaviour. He was released on 24 August.
Later that day, the Prison Service forwarded to the State Courts a letter from Teo’s lawyer with the receipt of his fine payment enclosed.
“When the error was discovered, the State Courts took immediate steps to review our work processes governing fines for State Courts cases that have gone on appeal to the High Court. We have since implemented further safeguards, such as additional levels of checks, as well as commenced an internal review of the matter,” said the State Courts.
“Depending on the outcome of the review, appropriate action (including disciplinary action) will be taken,” it added.
For his role in the road rage incident, Cheung, a British national was fined $2,800 in April last year.
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