Sleepy Driver Who Killed Maid In Hit-And-Run After Drinking Session Gets 6.5 Years’ Jail, 10-Year Dr
SINGAPORE — After a night out drinking, Sy Yong Da sped along Farrer Road and swerved into a sheltered pedestrian walkway, ploughing into a domestic worker.
He failed to stop to help the woman, fled the scene, went home to his condominium on Farrer Road, and called a tow truck to take his Lexus to an automotive workshop for repairs.
Police officers hunting for the culprit managed to recover the vehicle before the workshop owner began working on it.
The 40-year-old domestic worker, who had worked in Singapore for more than a decade, was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic about 15 minutes after the crash. The Attorney-General’s Chambers requested that her name not be published.
On Friday (June 11), Sy, 26, was jailed for six-and-a-half years and disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for 10 years.
The Singaporean pleaded guilty last month to one charge each of dangerous driving causing death, failing to render assistance to the victim, and obstructing justice by sending his car for repairs.
District Judge Lorraine Ho told the court that it was an “extremely tragic accident caused by egregious driving behaviour”, and that it was the type of scenario that led to Parliament increasing the penalties for errant drivers in 2019.
Felt ‘Very Tired And Sleepy’
The court heard that Sy had gone out drinking with several friends at Icon Pub, located at Balmoral Plaza, the night before the accident on Dec 7, 2019. He consumed about nine small glasses of beer mixed with cognac.
They finished drinking at 2.30 am and Sy took a taxi back home with his female friend.
The pair rested for a short while before he drove them to a McDonald’s outlet in Ang Mo Kio. They finished eating at about 5.35 am and he decided to take her home.
After dropping the woman off, he drove back home. He was still drunk and feeling “very tired and sleepy”, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Samyata Ravindran told the court.
While driving along Farrer Road towards Queensway at about 6.04 am, he lost control of his vehicle after closing his eyes. The speed limit there was 70km/h and he was speeding at about 78km/h to 81km/h at the time.
Traffic volume was light and visibility was fair.
Sy then swerved from the second lane to the fourth lane, mounting a kerb and crashing into the woman, who was walking home from the market along the sheltered walkway.
She was flung into a pillar and fell to the ground.
Sy then immediately drove back onto the road without helping the victim and fled the scene, which was captured on a camera installed by the Land Transport Authority.
After getting home at about 6.10 am, he searched for a towing service online and called one. His car was then towed to a workshop on Sin Ming Drive at 7.30 am.
He later woke his mother and told her that he had gotten into an accident. When she told him to take the car to another workshop where she could get a discount, he complied, waiting outside the workshop till it opened at 10 am.
He then handed over the keys to the workshop staff members and returned home to sleep.
At least five investigation officers worked to track Sy down. Traffic police officers also established that they were looking for a Lexus driver after examining portions of the car that had fallen off at the scene, as well as a broken licence plate holder.
When the police spoke to a security guard at Sy’s condominium, the guard initially said that he had not seen a silver Lexus.
However, he later recalled one being towed out of the complex and also that he had asked Sy’s mother why she was walking into the condo, instead of driving like she usually did. She had told him that her son had gotten into an accident.
The guard called the investigation officer, who returned to the condo and confronted Sy at his home.
He then admitted that he was the driver and told them where he had sent the car. At the workshop, the owner had decided not to proceed with repairs as Sy had not provided a police report detailing the accident.
The officer noticed that Sy reeked of alcohol, but as more than 12 hours had passed after the accident, he passed a breathalyser test.
Fled ‘In A Moment Of Fear And Folly’
DPP Samyata, who asked for seven years’ jail and a 10-year driving ban, told the court that the domestic worker had come to Singapore to support her family. She had two sons aged 19 and eight in the Philippines.
“By abandoning her at the scene and not even calling 999, he was willing to leave her for dead. It was clear to anybody involved in the accident or in that car — you can see from pictures, the way she was found,” the prosecutor said.
Sy also had past similar offences, including driving without a licence, insurance, and the owner’s consent, DPP Samyata noted.
In mitigation, Sy’s lawyer, Mr. Amarjit Singh, said that he had fled “in a moment of fear and folly”. He has been cooperative and attended every interview and court session, the lawyer added.
Sy will begin serving his sentence on June 22 and remains out on bail.
Mr. Singh told the court that Sy has to settle some personal affairs and wants to have dinner outside with his family after Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed.
For dangerous driving causing death, he could have been jailed for at least two years and up to eight years. Offenders will also be disqualified from driving for at least 10 years.
Repeat offenders can be jailed for at least four years and up to 15 years.
For obstructing justice, he could have been jailed for up to seven years or fined, or punished with both.
He could also have been jailed for up to a year or fined up to S$3,000, or both, for failing to render assistance after a fatal accident.