Ex-sergeant jailed for role in jeep accident

Ex-sergeant jailed for role in jeep accident
Master Sergeant Lee Kong Kean was sentenced to six months’ jail for ordering a full-time national serviceman (NSF) to drive a jeep despite having no licence or training, and trying to cover up the incident that led to a soldier’s death.

He had ordered a subordinate, who had no driving licence, to drive a military jeep.

When the jeep crashed, killing a passenger, former Master Sergeant Lee Kong Kean tried to make a scapegoat out of the driver.

Yesterday, Lee, 33, was jailed for six months - four months for abetting a rash act by ordering a full-time national serviceman, Sergeant Cavin Tan, to drive the jeep and two months for attempting to pervert the course of justice by planning to lie to investigators that Sgt Tan had stolen the jeep.

The sentences are to run consecutively.

Lee, who was in the Singapore Armed Forces Military Intelligence Institute, was released from regular service in December 2014.

When the jeep driven by Sgt Tan overturned at SAF Marsiling training ground during an exercise on May 11, 2012, all three passengers were injured.

NSF Tan Mou Sheng, 20, who was pinned under the jeep, later died from his injuries.

Lee, a senior specialist instructor at the time, later sought the approval of his junior instructors for him to lie to investigators that Sgt Tan, then 22, had stolen the jeep.

Defence lawyer Sunil Sudheesan had asked the court yesterday to consider a sentence of less than four months' jail.

He said his client regretted his actions and had apologised to the instructors and the deceased's family.


While he agreed with the prosecution that a custodial sentence was necessary, he said a "confluence of factors" had led to the tragedy.

One factor cited in an investigation report said the injuries could have resulted from the failure of the passengers to buckle up.

Sgt Tan was the only one who had worn his seat belt and helmet.

But District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan emphasised that the order for Sgt Tan to drive should not have been given in the first place.

Whether Sgt Tan, who had previously been sentenced to a 10-day short detention order for negligence, had objected to the order was irrelevant, the judge said.

Recommending six to nine months' jail, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tang Shangjun said a sufficiently stiff sentence would reflect "a significant measure of deterrence, and which reflects society's strong disapprobation of the accused's conduct".

This article was first published on April 23, 2015.
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