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Undergrad Uber driver jailed, banned

In the first fatality involving an Uber car, a 23-year-old driver was jailed for six weeks and banned from driving for five years yesterday for causing the death of his rear seat passenger and injuring a van driver.

Saddam Hussein Norazman admitted to causing the death of Ms Goh Pei Ling, 18, and grievously hurting Mr Muhammad Shuib Samat, 22, along Seletar Expressway (SLE) on Sept 25 last year.

He was ferrying Ms Goh and her then five-month pregnant sister-in-law - Ms Chan Qian Jin, 20 - in the Toyota Vios car at 3.45am when he failed to notice a stationary lorry ahead of him and collided into it. Both women were not wearing seat belts at the time.

Investigations showed that lorry driver Dhanasikaman Pravin Kumar, 29, had stopped on the left-most lane of the expressway behind Mr Shuib's van. The vehicles were ferrying eight and four passengers respectively.

Mr Shuib got out to speak to the Indian national driver over a motor-related incident earlier involving the two vehicles.

Saddam was driving along the left-most lane when he noticed the lorry from three to five car lengths away. He hit his brakes and tried to switch to the centre lane, but crashed into the back of the lorry, then Mr Shuib, and finally the van. Mr Shuib landed on the front windscreen of the car and suffered a broken left arm.

Surveillance camera footage showed Saddam's car hit the lorry about 17 seconds after the vehicle's hazard lights were turned on. Ms Goh was taken to hospital where she died several hours later.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ryan David Lim said there was a significant degree of negligence by Saddam and the degree of harm in this case was high.

He said Saddam had ample time and distance -about 320m - to avoid a collision.

Pleading for leniency, Saddam's lawyer Muntaz Zainuddin said her client, an Islamic Law undergraduate in Jordan, has been traumatised by the accident.

He could neither sleep nor eat properly as a result of the guilt he felt.

Ms Goh's father, Mr Goh Chin Chye, 53, said his daughter-in-law, Ms Chan, has given birth to a baby girl, but still suffers from blurred vision sometimes due to her injuries.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur backdated Saddam's sentence to Feb 6. He could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined for causing death by doing a negligent act. - Additional reporting by Seow Bei Yi.

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