Unlicensed minibus driver gets eight weeks' jail for causing fatal accident
Jail, driving ban for man who killed two people while driving a minibus with only a Class 3 licence
He killed a motorcyclist and a pillion rider while driving a minibus without a proper licence.
Yesterday, Nigel John Retnam, 22, was sentenced to a total of eight weeks' jail and banned from driving all classes of vehicles for five years.
In asking for a custodial sentence of between eight and 10 weeks, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sarah Ong said Retnam's "degree of negligence is high".
There were two fatalities and Retnam had driven without the requisite licence, she said.
The court heard that Retnam had borrowed an 11-seater minibus on July 19 to visit his father at the Institute of Mental Health that afternoon.
After meeting at Race Course Road, a friend gave Retnam the keys to the minibus despite the latter not having a vocational driving licence.
Retnam, who was then a National Serviceman, possessed only a Class 3 driving licence.
KILLED: Mr Wong Sang Min and his wife, Madam Ng Soo Kiew. LIANHE WANBAO FILE PHOTO
While driving the minibus alone along Yishun Avenue 2, Retnam had switched from the second lane on the four-lane road to the left-most lane with deadly consequences. He had failed to keep a proper lookout.
The manoeuvre caused the minibus to collide into the rear of Mr Wong Sang Min's motorcycle, flinging Mr Wong and his wife, Madam Ng Soo Kiew, 60, onto the ground.
The impact also sent the motorcycle crashing into the back of a car, hurting a female passenger.
Mr Wong, 63, was pronounced dead on the spot while Madam Ng died a few days later in hospital. Both had died due to multiple injuries, an autopsy report stated.
Retnam's lawyer, Mr S. S. Dhillon, had pleaded for leniency with the judge as it was his client's first brush with the law.
In mitigation, he said his client had trouble sleeping due to recurring nightmares. He said that for the past 11 months, Retnam has continued to think about the accident he caused which resulted in the deaths.
Mr Dhillon said Retnam was deeply remorseful and that the tragic accident was "pure human error".
Said the defence lawyer: "This is not a case where the accused was speeding, drink driving or asleep (at the time of the offence)... such accidents can happen to anyone."
After the fatal collision, Retnam stayed to check on the injured and he cooperated with the police investigation, said Mr Dhillon.
But DPP Ong said there was no reason for Retnam to have driven the minibus. "There were clearly alternative transport options available."
THE NEW PAPER, JULY 24, 2015