Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Woman in ‘basikal lajak’ case jailed 6 years, fined RM6,000

The Johor Bahru High Court has overturned the ruling by the Magistrate's Court upholding the previous decision to acquit and free Sam Ke Ting of the charges against her.

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The High Court in Johor Bahru today sentenced a woman to six years in jail and fined her RM6,000 after finding her guilty of reckless driving leading to the death of eight teenage cyclists in 2017.

The judgment overturned the ruling by the Magistrate’s Court on Oct 10 last year which had upheld the previous decision to acquit and free Sam Ke Ting of the charges against her.

Judge Abu Bakar Katar ordered Sam, now 27, to serve the jail sentence from today.

She was also disqualified from driving for three years and told to serve another six months in jail if she failed to pay the fine.

In his judgment, Abu Bakar said the defence failed to raise reasonable doubt against the prosecution’s case which had proven the essence of the offence.

“The woman’s act of driving recklessly or dangerously resulted in the loss of eight lives. In the sentencing, this court follows a precedent which takes into account the number of victims involved,” he said.

Sam, who was 22 at the time of the incident, was charged with driving recklessly or dangerously at Jalan Lingkaran Dalam, resulting in the death of eight cyclists at 3.20am on Feb 18, 2017.

She was charged under Section 41 (1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years and a RM20,000 fine upon conviction.

On Oct 28, 2019, she was acquitted and discharged by the Johor Bahru Magistrate’s Court.

On Feb 18, 2021, however, she was ordered to enter her defence after the prosecution succeeded in proving a prima facie case against her.

Magistrate Siti Hajar Ali ruled on Oct 10, 2021 that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against Sam beyond reasonable doubt.

Abu Bakar, when reading his decision to allow the prosecution’s appeal, said the court was satisfied that the essence of the offence under Section 41 (1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 had been successfully proven.

He said the trial court had erred when it failed to decide whether the woman’s defence in her unsworn statement was a mere denial or an afterthought.

“In her defence, the woman said that she did not see the group of cyclists at the scene and that there was another vehicle that hit the victims and sped away. This version was never raised by the respondent during the prosecution case,” he said in a report by Bernama.

The judge also said that the trial court had erred in failing to consider that the woman’s defence had not raised any reasonable doubt over the prosecution’s case for the charge of reckless driving given the winding and slightly hilly road conditions.

“The trial court erred in accepting the defence which said that she was unaware of the cycling activity on the night of the incident as an excuse to drive her car in a reckless manner to the extent of causing the death of the victims.

“The respondent should have driven her car more carefully and not recklessly. She should have known that the street would not be brightly lit at 3.20am,” he said.

Earlier, the prosecution represented by Johor prosecution director Tengku Amir Zaki Tengku Abd Rahman and deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Syafiq Mohd Ghazali pressed for an appropriate punishment for the woman, taking into consideration the principle of public interest.

However, the woman, represented by lawyer Muhammad Faizal Mokhtar, requested a lighter penalty as it was her first offence and she still has parents to support and care for.

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