SINGAPORE: A Maserati driver who was found guilty of dragging a traffic police officer in an escape bid failed to turn up for his sentencing on Tuesday (Jul 21) - the third time he has done so.
Lee Cheng Yan, 36, was convicted last December of all 10 charges he faced, including voluntarily causing grievous hurt to a public servant, failing to stop after an accident and obstructing justice.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Senthilkumaran Sabapathy said that he was informed on Monday that Lee was unable to attend court as he was on medical leave - the same reason given on the two previous occasions.
Mr Sabapathy noted that in all three instances, Lee had gone to the same private clinic - Goh Medical Clinic - to get a medical certificate (MC).
Lee's original sentencing was scheduled for Apr 1, before it was moved to Jun 30 and then to Jul 21. Lee was given five days of medical leave each time.
For his case on Tuesday, Lee had an MC that put him on medical leave between Jul 20 to 23 for acute respiratory illness, Mr Sabapathy said in court.
Under COVID-19 regulations, Lee is supposed to stay at home for either the duration of the MC or until he is swabbed and tests negative.
Mr Sabapathy said that this piece of information was “important” as this meant that Lee could have gone to get tested 24 hours after he received a referral letter from his doctor.
Mr Sabapathy said that it was “concerning” Lee did not get swabbed straightaway for two reasons. One, it was “irresponsible” of him in the “current climate”. Two, it implies that he is trying to “game the system so as not to face a sentence”.
Lee’s actions were “disappointing but not surprising”, Mr Sabapathy said.
The prosecution applied for additional bail conditions to be imposed, including the requirement that if the accused cannot attend court for medical reasons, he should report to a government clinic for a medical consultation and not a private one.
Making this a requisite will be beneficial for Lee as well, Mr Sabapathy said.
If Lee went for a medical consultation at a public medical provider, he would be able to get tested immediately, as opposed to visiting a private doctor who does not offer testing services and as a result has to issue a referral letter.
The demand, Mr Sabapathy said, was “broad enough but entirely reasonable”.
Defence counsel Balamurugan Selvarajan, who is representing Lee, agreed to the demand as well, saying that Lee applying for medical leave was “not within his control” on all three occasions and he did not know until Lee informed him.
He had also advised Lee to do the swab test immediately, Mr Selvarajan said.
Lee’s sentencing has been moved to the morning of Jul 28.
Lee drove his S$175,000 Maserati to pick up a laptop from a man at Bedok Reservoir Road on Nov 17, 2017. After this, a passing police officer saw him driving without his seat belt on and signalled to him to stop.
READ: 'I did not touch the car that day at all,' claims Maserati owner accused of dragging traffic police officer with car
Lee, who was banned from driving at the time, refused to do so, and later sped away with the officer hanging from his driver's door. He dragged the officer for 124m at a speed of 79kmh to 84kmh.
The officer fell off and was given more than 20 days' medical leave for injuries to his knee, neck and back and later medically downgraded by the Home Team's medical board.
After he was charged, Lee denied being the driver of the Maserati, testifying to the court that it was a person named Kelvin who drove the vehicle.
He said Kelvin was about his build and wearing a similar white T-shirt on that day, and claimed that he had gone for dinner at the time of the incident.
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.