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Maserati driver who dragged police officer gets more jail time for driving after lifetime ban, other offences

Maserati driver who dragged police officer gets more jail time for driving after lifetime ban, other offences

Lee Cheng Yan outside the State Courts on Oct 3, 2019. (Photo: TODAY/Najeer Yusof)

SINGAPORE: The driver of a Maserati that dragged a traffic police officer along the road in an escape bid in 2017 was on Thursday (Jan 27) given more jail time and another lifetime driving ban for the outstanding charges against him.

These include driving even though he was on bail pending an appeal and despite being under a lifetime driving ban.

Lee Cheng Yan was given 21 months and 16 weeks' jail on Thursday, banned from driving for life and issued a S$1,000 penalty.

The new jail term will begin when his current one expires.

The 38-year-old is currently serving a jail term of four years and seven months for his earlier offence, which was meted out to him in July 2020 along with a S$3,700 fine and a lifetime driving ban.

Lee pleaded guilty to 15 charges. These include traffic offences such as driving when under a disqualification order, dangerous driving and evading a police roadblock.

Another set of charges is for illegal football betting. These include placing S$38,000 of illegal football bets, sending an alarming message to someone who owed him money from online football betting and distributing a football bet prize.

The third type of charges is for instigating a man to gain unauthorised access to Singtel's system in order to retrieve subscribers' addresses, so a third party could track them down for money owed.

Another 54 charges were taken into consideration.

Lee is known for his long-drawn court case over the 2017 incident. He was also under a driving ban at the time of that offence.

At trial, he claimed that it was an unknown man named Kelvin who was behind the wheel. According to him, Kelvin was of a similar build and was also wearing a similar white shirt that Lee was caught on police cameras wearing that day.

The prosecutor put it to Lee at the time that Kelvin does not exist and no one has managed to identify him. Lee's freshly hired lawyers from Withers KhattarWong said they were not pursuing this line of defence at his High Court appeal in May 2021.

HE DROVE WHILE ON BAIL PENDING APPEAL, DESPITE DRIVING BAN

While on bail pending this appeal, Lee reoffended and continued to drive, despite being under a lifetime driving ban.

He was captured on closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras driving near Block 18, Upper Boon Keng Road on Feb 13 last year, with the driver's window wound down.

He was also shown on CCTV footage parking a friend's rented BMW in the area before alighting from the driver's seat on Mar 1, 2021.

At about 4am on Mar 12, 2021, Lee drove a Mercedes along MacPherson Road towards Airport Road when he was stopped at a traffic police roadblock with a woman beside him.

A traffic police officer conducted a routine breathalyser test on Lee, which he failed. When asked to provide his personal details, Lee drove off suddenly, manoeuvring through the barricade and speeding off.

Two officers gave chase on their motorcycles, and Lee drove in a dangerous manner including driving at a speed of 140kmh on a 50kmh-limit road and dashing through red lights.

The pursuit lasted for about 2.4km before the officers lost sight of Lee's car. Lee abandoned the car at a car park in Tai Seng Industrial Estate and fled from the scene.

He was caught three days later after an extensive manhunt by the police, the prosecution said.

Investigations revealed that Lee had driven the car to watch a movie with a woman before dropping her off at her home. He then met another woman, whose identity could not be established, for drinks in the Lavender area.

He was with the woman in the early hours of Mar 12, 2021, when the car was stopped at the roadblock.

THE OTHER OFFENCES

On top of these traffic offences, Lee admitted to helping co-accused Philbert Lim Zong Xian, 34, obtain addresses of people who owed Lim money. This was in exchange for S$1,000.

In 2017, Lee contacted another man, Kelvin Foo Cheek Ann, who was a retail consultant for a subsidiary of Singtel at Parkway Parade.

He got Foo to access Singtel's system and retrieve customer details, offering Foo S$20 for each phone number to be checked.

Lee then passed on the information to Lim. The Singtel customers later reported instances of being harassed by phone calls, text messages and people showing up at their homes to demand money.

Lee also admitted to being both an agent and a punter for online football betting and lotteries between August 2015 and September 2017.

He placed his own bets on football matches, including a bet value of S$38,000 in February 2017. He also arranged bets for others and transferred S3,756 of winnings to a punter in 2016.

A RECALCITRANT AND PERSISTENT OFFENDER: PROSECUTION

The prosecutors sought at least 25 months' jail and a lifetime driving ban for Lee, calling him a "recalcitrant and persistent offender" with "a staggering 69 outstanding offences".

They said it is "self-evident that the accused has complete disregard for the law and that a lengthy period of imprisonment is required for these offences".

Lawyer Jeremy Pereira said there were no excuses for what his client has done, describing his situation as one where he was "digging a deeper hole for himself as it went on".

He said Lee did not run the same defence this time that he did previously, but has sobered and is genuinely remorseful and contrite. Lee listened to proceedings via video-link, appearing visibly slimmer.

His lawyer urged the court to temper justice with mercy.

The judge said it was "heartening" to hear that Lee now appears contrite, but said the number of offences was indeed "staggering".

"This can easily be said to be one of the worst types of offending behaviour that the court has seen in recent times," she said.

Source: CNA/ll(zl)

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