Ex-sergeant admits asking NSF to drive without licence

Ex-sergeant admits asking NSF to drive without licence
Mandai Road.

A former master sergeant (MSG) yesterday admitted ordering a full-time national serviceman (NSF) to drive a military jeep, even though he had no valid licence.

The NSF went on to lose control of the vehicle during a training exercise in the Marsiling training area in Mandai, causing it to overturn.

The accident killed a fellow soldier who was in the rear passenger seat and injured two other soldiers on board on May 11, 2012.

A court heard that former MSG Lee Kong Kean, 33, who was conducting the exercise, later told instructors his intention to lie to investigators that NSF Cavin Tan, now 22, had stolen the jeep.

Lee pleaded guilty to two charges of a rash act endangering human life and attempting to pervert the course of justice. He is represented by lawyers Sunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam, and is expected to be sentenced on April 22.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tang Shangjun said Lee has a Class 3 military driving licence and was fully aware of the requirements needed to obtain it. The full duration of the Class 3 military driving course is 29 days, and military jeep familiarisation is part of it.

Mr Tan did not have this licence, but Lee ordered him to drive the jeep.

DPP Tang said: "Lee had a duty to ensure that safety procedures and training protocol were strictly adhered to.

"This was an act that could endanger the lives of everyone who was on the jeep driven by Cavin."

Some time into the exercise, between 5.30am and 6.30am, Mr Tan lost control of the jeep on a downward slope. It tilted, rotated and overturned several times before landing on its side.

Fellow NSFs Dickson Hong and Ow Yong Wei Long were thrown out and hurt. NSF Tan Mou Sheng was pinned under the jeep. He died of severe pelvic injuries.

None of the trio had been wearing helmets or seat belts.

Later that day, Lee told the instructors his intention to lie that Mr Tan had stolen the jeep.

"This was a claim which Lee knew to be completely untrue, but he nevertheless attempted to make this claim in the hope that he would gain the support of the instructors," noted DPP Tang. "However, none of the instructors agreed with (his) suggestion."

Last December, Mr Tan was sentenced to a 10-day short detention order - a community-based sentence that is less disruptive and stigmatising than prison.

District Judge Low Wee Ping said during his sentencing: "Perhaps one positive outcome of this case is that national servicemen now know that they do not need to obey a manifestly illegal or unlawful order."

For the rash act, Lee faces a jail term of up to six months and a fine of up to $2,500. For attempting to pervert the course of justice, he faces 31/2 years in jail and a fine.


This article was first published on March 12, 2015.
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