Lorry driver in viral collision with cyclist loses appeal, to serve jail term

Lorry driver in viral collision with cyclist loses appeal, to serve jail term

Teo Seng Tiong
Lorry driver Teo Seng Tiong and cyclist Eric Cheung Hoyu. (Photos: Rauf Khan, Roads.sg)

SINGAPORE: A lorry driver who was involved in a collision with a cyclist in Pasir Ris two years ago will have to serve jail time after his appeals against the sentence and conviction were dismissed on Monday (Jul 20).

Driver Teo Seng Tiong, 59, had been found guilty after a trial of swerving suddenly into cyclist Eric Cheung Hoyu along Pasir Ris Drive 3 towards New Loyang Link on Dec 22, 2018.

He was sentenced to seven weeks' jail, a fine of S$500 and a driving ban of two years in January for one count of causing hurt by rash driving, and another charge of failing to make a police report within 24 hours of the accident.

READ: Lorry driver in viral incident against cyclist gets jail, fine and driving ban, intends to appeal

Teo tried appealing against his conviction and sentence, with lawyer Tan Hee Joek arguing his main case that it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt during the trial that a collision had occurred.

Video clips showing part of the altercation went viral around the time of the incident, with a petition set up online urging the traffic police to return Teo his impounded lorry.

JUDGE QUESTIONS DEFENCE'S ARGUMENTS

Justice Chan Seng Onn raised several questions in response to Mr Tan's arguments, asking him "you mean the cyclist fell off on his own?" and asking the lawyer how he expected him to "buy" his defence if the district judge had not bought the same defence during the trial.

Justice Chan said that even if the hurt to the cyclist had been indirectly caused, the hurt was still caused as a result of Teo's actions.

"This lorry driver did a very rash act to 'squeeze' the cyclist, that he had no choice but to fall off and hurt himself," said the judge.

Mr Tan argued that Teo had heard "a long horn" from behind him, followed by a sound which he thought was the sound of the taxi colliding into him, and so swerved into the cyclist's path to avoid the taxi.

"What long horn?" answered Justice Chan. "Many people 'horn' me, I don't care. Basically you just ignore the horn. Cannot be - if someone horns you from behind, you just run into somebody in front. (It) cannot be, right."

However, Justice Chan acknowledged that the cyclist was "one-of-a-kind also", after hearing the lawyer's arguments.

READ: Lorry driver in altercation with cyclist says he swerved to avoid taxi, did not hit cyclist

Mr Tan said that the cyclist was "being aggressive", had smashed Teo's handphone and made a false report at first. He also was able to cycle home after the incident, and there was no evidence during the trial that his bicycle cost S$7,000 and was damaged such that it could not be used.

He also said it was not a case of "road rage" and that the sentence meted out to Teo was "manifestly excessive".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Choong said that the trial judge had made correct conclusions in finding that it was a case of road rage and that Teo's overall conduct shows that he had deliberately swerved towards the cyclist as a "retaliatory act", out of anger and vengeance.

The collision was clearly shown in clips played to the court during the trial, said the prosecutor, who replayed them for Justice Chan.

Justice Chan agreed "wholly" with the prosecutor's arguments that the charges were proven, and dismissed the appeals against conviction and sentence.

"The sentence is not manifestly excessive given the fact that this is not only a rash but intentional act on the part of the appellant when he swerved the lorry to hit the bicycle, causing the cyclist to fall off and fall onto the pavement," he said. 

"It was a very dangerous act, having viewed the video, and I will therefore also uphold the period of disqualification," said Justice Chan, adding that Teo will serve his jail term immediately.

The cyclist had been fined S$2,800 in April last year, after pleading guilty to mischief and not cycling in an orderly and careful manner as required under traffic regulations.

Source: CNA/ll(hs)

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