She didn't get off lightly: Lawyers

She didn't have a driving licence and she admitted to having downed copious amounts of alcohol.

Then, Candy Siow Pei Shan, 23, drove a car and killed a 70-year-old pedestrian who was waiting on the pavement to cross the junction at Bukit Batok East Avenue 3 and Bukit Batok East Avenue 4 in February last year.

Siow was jailed four months and banned from driving for 10 years. She was sentenced last week. But netizens say it was not enough. They argue she should have been give a longer jail time for taking a life.

One of them even wrote in to citizen-journalism website Stomp and commented: "She knocked down someone and killed him, but she's only jailed for four months. What is this? Isn't it murder?" And they also asked why she was not charged with drink driving.

Siow pleaded guilty to three charges of causing death by driving negligently, driving without insurance coverage and driving without a valid driving licence.

Was her sentence too light?

No, lawyers told The New Paper.

In fact, the usual sentence for causing death by driving negligently is a fine if there are no aggravating factors.

Mr Chia Boon Teck, co-managing partner of Chia Wong LLP, said: "Her punishment is quite consistent with past cases for a similar offence."

For instance, a driver who reversed into a couple who were crossing the road and killed the husband was jailed for a week last month. (See report below.)

Although most prosecutions for driving-related offences come under the Road Traffic Act, the Penal Code can kick in, too. That's usually when a traffic violation results in another's death . Mr Chia said: "This gives the authorities the option of prosecuting the offender under the Penal Code, which usually carries a heavier punishment, instead of the Road Traffic Act."

For causing death by negligence, a person could be jailed for up to two years and fined.

On netizens insisting Siow should have been charged with murder, lawyers said they were off the mark.

Mr Foo Cheow Ming, a criminal lawyer at KhattarWong, said: "The difference is Candy did not intend to kill anyone. The tragic and fatal consequence was the result not of an intentional act but a cumulation of causative factors plus bad luck."

Lawyer Gloria James of Gloria James-Civetta & Co said: "The public always equates death to mean deserving a serious punishment.

"But the law does not work that way as the accused driving the car would not have the intention to commit the act of murder from the driving."

Then there's the question of drink driving. By her own admission, Siow downed at least 10 glasses of brandy and three to five glasses of beer.

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