Singapore

Van driver jailed for causing two accidents within 10 hours

Man jailed 13 months, banned from driving for five years for causing two accidents

In barely 10 hours, the driver of a van caused two accidents - killing a 16-year-old girl and injuring an 18-year-old student.

While out on bail for the two offences, Muhammad Nizam Abdul Karim was caught with "Ice", the street name for methamphetamine.

Yesterday, Nizam, a 22-year-old delivery driver, was jailed 13 months and banned from driving for five years.

Court papers said that Nizam was driving his van along Bedok South Avenue 2 at about 7.50pm on April 12, 2014, when he took his eyes off the road to fiddle with his vehicle's global positioning system (GPS).

He did not notice the traffic light had turned red and that Mr Chua Shuen Zhi, 18, a student, was crossing the road using a pedestrian crossing.

Nizam's van ploughed into Mr Chua and sent him flying about one lamp-post's length away, leaving him unconscious.

It was only then that Nizam realised something was wrong, so he stopped the van and alighted.

Mr Chua was taken to Changi General Hospital (CGH) with a head injury and abrasions to his knees, hip, rib cage and left forearm.

He was warded for a day and given seven days' medical leave.

Nizam's van was inspected by authorities at the scene and the windscreen was found to be severely cracked, with the front panel ripped off.

Despite this, Nizam continued driving the van that day.

He met some friends, including 16-year-old Norfatin Diana Norazlan and her younger sister, for a gathering at Changi Beach Club.

Nizam drove his friends between two carparks near the club throughout the night.

At about 5am the next day, Norfatin and her younger sister climbed into the back of Nizam's van.

As Norfatin was pulling the rear sliding door shut, Nizam suddenly drove off and made a sharp right turn towards the carpark exit.

This caused the sliding door to swing wide open, sending Norfatin, who was holding onto the door, flying out of the van.

Her head hit the ground as she landed with a loud thud.

Her sister shouted for Nizam to stop the van and he did.

When they got to Norfatin, they noticed that her eyes were open and her arms were moving, but she was unresponsive.

They also saw a bump on the back of the head, even though she was not bleeding.

Norfatin's sister and her friends were about to call for an ambulance, but Nizam stopped them as he was afraid he would lose his driving licence, court papers said.

He convinced them to let Norfatin to rest in the van.

Two hours later, at about 7.20am, her sister realised Norfatin's condition had worsened - her fingers were turning blue and she was cold.

There was a triathlon event at the time, and a friend sought help from a paramedic at the first-aid tent. Norfatin's sister called for an ambulance.

Meanwhile, Nizam was at the beach chatting with a female friend.

Norfatin was taken to CGH at 8.05am and pronounced dead about an hour later.

HEAD INJURIES

Court papers said she died from severe head injuries.

THE NEW PAPER, APRILĀ 15, 2014

On Nov 10 last year, police officers arrested Nizam in the back of a courier van that was parked at a refuse centre near Block 740, Tampines Street 72, and found two packets of Ice on him.

His urine also tested positive for the drug, which he told authorities he consumed three times a week.

Yesterday, Nizam pleaded guilty to one count each of dangerous driving, causing death by a negligent act, possessing 0.54g of Ice as well as drug consumption.

Defence counsel N. Sudha Nair said in her client's mitigation that he was remorseful.

She said he had carried Norfatin to the back of his van after the accident and even given her some water.

She added that her client was young and had done what he thought was the best in a situation that he had never faced before.

But Assistant Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok said in his submissions that Nizam was errant, selfish and irresponsible, having delayed medical attention.

While it remains uncertain whether earlier medical attention would have saved the young girl's life, it would have increased her chances of survival, he said.

District Judge Luke Tan agreed and said Nizam's selfish action had made the situation even worse.

Norfatin's father, Mr Norazlan Abdul Rahman, who is in his 40s, told Shin Min Daily News in 2014 that he was at work when he found out the news.

He also said Nizam approached him at the hospital.

"His eyes were red and swollen," said Mr Norazlan.

"He took both my hands and kept apologising while he was crying. I found out then that he was the driver."

Mr Norazlan said he had not seen Nizam before, but he has since forgiven him.

"I told him that it was perhaps God's will."

He could not be reached for further comment yesterday.

Nizam's family, who were in court, declined to speak to The New Paper.

A fifth charge for possessing utensils used for the consumption of drugs was taken into consideration for sentencing.

He took both my hands and kept apologising while he was crying. I found out then that he was the driver.

- Mr Norazlan Abdul Rahman, father of Norfatin Diana Norazlan (left), on Muhammad Nizam Abdul Karim

crimeDrivingNEGLIGENCE CAUSING DEATHDriving OffencedrugsjailDeath