Maserati driver on trial for driving off, dragging traffic police officer along for 124m

Maserati driver on trial for driving off, dragging traffic police officer along for 124m

Lee Cheng Yan
Lee Cheng Yan faces 23 charges in all. (Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY)

SINGAPORE: A Maserati driver accused of driving off despite being stopped by a traffic police officer, dragging him along with the vehicle for about 124m, stood trial on Thursday (Oct 3). 

Lee Cheng Yan, 35, is contesting 10 charges, including voluntarily causing grievous hurt to a public servant.

In their opening address on Thursday, the prosecution said that Lee had failed to stop or help the officer, who suffered injuries that continue to affect him to this day.

Lee drove rashly against traffic during the escape, beat two red lights, abandoned the Maserati and discarded the shirt he was wearing to evade police, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh.

The incident happened on Nov 17, 2017.  

The accused had been banned from driving at the time, the court heard, and had picked up a laptop from a man at Bedok Reservoir Road when the officer spotted him driving without his seat belt on.

When the officer, who was in full traffic police uniform and on a patrol motorcycle, signalled to Lee to stop, he allegedly refused to do so.

Video footage of the incident captures the officer parking his motorcycle in front of the Maserati at the junction of Bedok Reservoir Road and Jalan Damai, where Lee had stopped his vehicle due to traffic conditions.

When the officer instructed Lee to pull over to the side of the road, Lee purportedly reversed his Maserati suddenly and accelerated quickly while the officer was next to his driver-seat door.

The officer's uniform was caught at the door and he was dragged with the moving vehicle. Lee drove 124m with the officer hanging onto the door, at a speed of 79kmh to 84kmh, alleged the prosecution.

The officer was eventually shaken off the car and was given more than 20 days' medical leave for injuries to his knee, neck and back.

He was medically downgraded by the Home Team Medical Board because of his injuries, which "continue to negatively affect the range of duties he is able to carry out as a traffic police officer", said the prosecutor.

After the incident, Lee allegedly fled, with an eyewitness pursuing him on a motorcycle and his pillion rider recording the chase.

He beat two red lights, overtook vehicles without signalling and drove against traffic, allege the prosecution, adding that he abandoned the Maserati along a road and threw his shirt down a rubbish chute.

The prosecution intends to lead evidence from 12 witnesses during the trial, including various eyewitnesses and the victim.

Lee, who is defended by lawyers Choo Si Sen, S Balamurugan and Choo Yean Lin, disputes that he was the driver of the Maserati.

I SHOUTED TO HIM TO STOP, BUT HE CARRIED ON DRIVING: VICTIM

The victim, Staff Sergeant Khairulanwar Abd Kahar, took the stand in the afternoon and described what happened.

He said he had been heading back to his headquarters after attending to a traffic accident along the Pan Island Expressway when he rode past Lee's Maserati along Bedok Reservoir Road.

He noticed that Lee was not wearing any seat belt and tried repeatedly to get him to pull over. Lee stopped only when the lights turned red. 

"I placed my bike in front of him, diagonally, and I dismounted," said the officer. "I went directly to his driver's door."

The lights turned green then, and vehicles began to move off.

"All of a sudden, he veered his steering wheel to the right and hit onto me," said the officer. "My left arm got into his window and he suddenly started to accelerate as fast as he could."

The officer caught his left elbow in between Lee's seat belt and his seat, and could not regain his balance as his feet were being dragged as Lee drove, he said.

"I shouted to him to stop, but he just carried on driving," testified the officer.

Eventually, he managed to extricate himself and fell back from the car, rolling over and landing on the right side of the road.

The trial continues.

The penalties for voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter a public servant from his duty are a maximum jail term of 15 years and a fine or caning.

Source: CNA/ll(gs)

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