Clerk Sam Ke Ting's conviction for reckless driving resulting in the death of eight teen cyclists cannot stand as the charge against her is defective, the Court of Appeal was told today.
Her lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, submitted that there was a duplicity of the charge as the public prosecutor had included two distinct offences, namely reckless driving and driving in a dangerous manner.
"This is erroneous. Only one offence is allowed in law to be framed in the charge," he said.
Hisyam was submitting in Sam's appeal against the High Court decision which convicted her of reckless driving and sentenced her to six years in jail and a fine.
He argued that his client had been prejudiced due to "a failure of justice" as she had been convicted of a charge not recognised in law.
"The High Court judge convicted Sam of 'reckless or dangerous driving'. The appellant (Sam) did not get what the law says she should get," he said before a three-member bench comprising justices Hadhariah Syed Ismail, Hashim Hamzah and Azman Abdullah.
Sam, 27, was initially acquitted and discharged without being called to enter her defence by the Johor Bahru Magistrate's Court on Nov 18, 2019, on a charge of reckless driving causing the death of the teenagers who were riding on modified bicycles, commonly known as basikal lajak.
The eight teenagers killed in the incident were Mohamad Azrie Danish Zulkefli, 14; Muhamad Shahrul Izzwan Azzuraimie, 14; Muhammad Firdauz Danish Mohd Azhar, 16; Fauzan Halmijan, 13; Mohamad Azhar Amir, 16; Muhammad Harith Iskandar Abdullah, 14; Muhammad Shahrul Nizam Marudin, 14 and Haizad Kasrin, 16.
Sam was charged with committing the offence at Jalan Lingkaran Dalam, Johor Bahru, Johor at 3.20am on Feb 18, 2017. Sam was 22 years old at the time of the incident.
On Feb 18, 2021, High Court judge Shahnaz Sulaiman allowed the prosecution's appeal and remitted the case back to the Magistrate's Court for Sam to enter her defence on the reckless driving charge.
On Oct 10, 2021, the Magistrate's Court discharged and acquitted Sam at the end of the defence case, after which the prosecution appealed to the High Court.
On April 13 last year, High Court judge Abu Bakar Katar allowed the prosecution's appeal and convicted Sam of reckless driving. Sam was sentenced to six years in jail and fined RM6,000.
Sam appealed to the Court of Appeal and on April 18 last year, the appellate court allowed her application to stay the execution of the jail sentence and fine, and released her on bail of RM10,000 with one surety pending the hearing of her appeal.
In today's appeal hearing, Hisyam also argued that in the Magistrate's Court, the prosecution's case was that of reckless driving, but when the case went up before the first High Court judge, the prosecution's stand changed to dangerous driving.
Another of Sam's lawyers, Harvinderjit Singh, submitted that what happened on that day was an "emergency situation", adding that the situation was created by the victims and not Sam.
The teenagers had been riding on modified bicycles at 3am illegally, he said, adding that the finding of prima facie against Sam by the first High Court was wrong.
The court fixed April 11 to resume hearing after deputy public prosecutor Tengku Amir Zaki Tengku Abdul Rahman said he would take two hours to submit.