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AGC in discussions with lawyer of man who served 2 extra days in jail over officer's error

AGC in discussions with lawyer of man who served 2 extra days in jail over officer's error

Lorry driver Teo Seng Tiong at the State Courts on Monday Sep 23, 2019. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is in discussions with the lawyer of Mr Teo Seng Tiong, the lorry driver who had spent two extra days in jail.

“The matter is being discussed between AGC and Mr Teo’s counsel. We are unable to share further details as these discussions are confidential,” the AGC said on Thursday (Sep 3) in response to CNA's queries.

Mr Teo was found guilty earlier this year for swerving his lorry into a cyclist and failing to make a police report within 24 hours of the accident. 

The 59-year-old was sentenced to seven weeks' jail and fined S$500, with an additional three days' imprisonment if he failed to pay the fine. Mr Teo was also banned from driving for two years.

Mr Teo paid his fine on Jul 20, the same day he started serving his sentence. The fine was paid at the High Court, which notified the State Courts of the payment that day, the State Courts said on Wednesday.

However, a court officer failed to update the case management system to reflect that Mr Teo had paid the fine. As a result, Mr Teo had to serve a default imprisonment term. 

"While the default imprisonment term imposed by the court was three days, the actual default imprisonment term served by Mr Teo was two days, due to one-third of the term being remitted," said the State Courts, adding that he was released on Aug 24.

READ: State Courts apologise after man served 2 extra days in jail due to officer's error

Mr Teo's lawyer Tan Hee Joek told CNA on Thursday that the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) had informed him during his imprisonment that the records showed an unpaid fine.

Mr Teo told SPS that his wife had confirmed the fine was paid, said Mr Tan. 

When the SPS queried on Aug 21 and Aug 22, the State Courts wrongly said that Mr Teo did not pay the fine as the case management system was not updated. 

Mr Teo's payment was only discovered after the SPS forwarded a letter from his lawyer on Aug 24, enclosing the receipt. 

"The State Courts deeply regret what has happened, and we have conveyed our letter of apology to Mr Teo through the Attorney-General’s Chambers," the State Courts said.

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

FURTHER SAFEGUARDS IMPLEMENTED

Mr Tan said on Wednesday that his client is "grateful to the courts for their swift clarification". 

"Those extra two days were especially agonising for him as he lived in uncertainty and fear in a small cell for four," said the lawyer.

"We understand that the Attorney-General’s Chambers and Mr Teo’s lawyers are already in discussions to resolve this case," the State Courts said in response to CNA on Thursday.

"Immediate steps" have been taken to review work processes governing fines for cases that have gone on appeal to the High Court, said the State Courts.

They added that they have since implemented further safeguards such as additional levels of checks, and started an internal review of the matter, adding that "appropriate action" including disciplinary action would be taken depending on the outcome of the review.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that while AGC said it is in discussions with Mr Teo's lawyer, it did not specify what the discussions are about. We apologise for the error.

Source: CNA/nh(ta)

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