SINGAPORE: A Maserati owner accused of driving off while dragging a traffic police officer with the car took the stand on Wednesday (Oct 9), claiming he has never driven the car in Singapore.
Lee Cheng Yan, 35, said he bought the second-hand Maserati for S$175,000, about a week before the incident on Nov 17, 2017. This was also months before his driving ban was due to be lifted.
Lee claimed he had not even test-driven the car. "I haven't even seen the car when I purchased it," he added.
He also claimed that he had lent the car to a friend named "Kelvin", who was about his size and who happened to be wearing a white top like him on the day of the incident.
Lee told the court that he found out about what happened only when a friend told him to check out the viral video of the incident online.
In response, the prosecution charged that Kelvin does not exist, and that Lee was "obviously lying".
When cross-examined about the purchase of the Maserati, Lee agreed with the prosecutor that S$175,000 was quite a lot of money, but said "this is the second Maserati for me" when asked if the car was valuable to him.
He replied "no" when Deputy Public Prosecutor Senthilkumaran Sabapathy suggested to him that it did not make sense for him to buy such an expensive car that he could not drive for five months, and that he did intend to drive while under a driving ban.
Lee is on trial for 10 charges, including various traffic offences and voluntarily causing grievous hurt to a public servant.
According to the prosecution's case, Lee was driving along Bedok Reservoir Road when he was spotted without a seat belt on.
The traffic police officer repeatedly tried to get him to pull over, but Lee allegedly stopped only when the lights turned red.
When the lights turned green, Lee is accused of driving off, dragging along the officer who had his elbow caught between Lee's seat and seatbelt.
The officer was dragged for about 124m at a speed of 79kmh to 84kmh. He was medically downgraded by the Home Team Medical Board because of his injuries.
According to Lee, he handed Kelvin the key to his Maserati at about 7pm that day, about two hours before the incident.
He then went for dinner and took a taxi to a friend's home, where he was told at about 11pm that there was a viral video featuring his car.
Lee panicked and threw away his shirt, because he remembered that Kelvin was wearing a similar shirt.
He added that his friend advised him to contact the police, and they were supposedly on their way to do so when the police caught up with them.
FRIENDS' EVIDENCE CONTRADICTS LEE'S: PROSECUTION
The prosecution asserted that Lee was lying and making up evidence, pointing out that evidence from three of Lee's friends contradicted his own.
One of them testified that Lee had admitted to him that he had been involved in an accident with a traffic police officer, while another witness testified that Lee had been driving the Maserati when he picked up a laptop from him shortly before the incident.
The prosecutor played footage showing Lee leaving his house at 8.48pm, contrasted with footage of his Maserati leaving the car park at 8.52pm.
When questioned about why he was shown leaving at that time when he had claimed to leave at 7pm to hand the key to Kelvin, Lee said he was not wearing a watch at that time and that it was just "a normal day" for him.
"No one has identified Kelvin," said the prosecutor. "I put it to you that this Kelvin does not exist."
"No," replied Lee.
"I put it to you that he is an afterthought that you concocted, and I put it to you that you are the driver of the Maserati on Nov 17, 2017," said the prosecutor. "You are obviously lying."
Lee repeatedly answered "no", adding that "I did not touch the car that day at all", and "I did not drive the car".
However, he agreed with the prosecutor when asked if it was wrongful and cowardly for the driver to have run away from the scene and that the driver's actions captured in footage are "quite shocking and despicable".
The defence closed its case on Wednesday. Both sides are to file trial submissions, with the next court hearing set for Dec 4 and a date for a verdict to be set later.