Driver, 75, gets jail and ban over fatal crash

Driver, 75, gets jail and ban over fatal crash

SINGAPORE - A retired army officer was Friday given four months' jail and a five-year driving ban for running a red light and causing the death of a passenger in a lorry.

Pancratius Joseph D'rozario, a 75-year-old grandfather, was also fined $5,000 for injuring two others, who were also in the lorry.

Then 72, he had driven his car into the junction of Victoria Street and Ophir Road on May 9, 2010 and hit the lorry, which flipped onto its left side and landed in the middle of the junction. This resulted in the death of Madam Surjit Kour, 56, who was in the rear of the vehicle.

D'rozario claimed the lights were green in his favour during his eight-day trial.

But, calling this a "bare assertion", the court in January convicted him of driving dangerously and causing Madam Kour's death, and causing hurt by a rash act to her companions. He must have known the lights were red against him but still chose to enter the junction, the court said.

Urging the court to exercise "judicial mercy" and sentence their client to no more than three months' jail and a 10-year driving ban, lawyers Tito Isaac and Jonathan Wong Friday said D'rozario had not been charged, fined or convicted of any traffic offence in almost 50 years of driving.

They said the accident came from a "momentary lapse of judgment", adding D'rozario was advanced in years and had health conditions including chronic kidney failure.

But Deputy Public Prosecutors Yang Ziliang and Sarah Ong said it was necessary to "exhort" other motorists to exercise greater consideration and care for others at traffic junctions with signals.

They called for a jail term of at least six months and a five-year ban, but no fewer than four months in prison if the court decided to show "some degree of compassion".

D'rozario showed a lack of remorse by continuing to fight the charges though independent witnesses had testified the lights were red against him, they added.

District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam noted the accused's condition but said "judicial mercy" would be applied only in the "most unusual" situations and not in D'rozario's case, as he was not so ill that he could not survive his jail term.

She said he would be cared for as required.

D'rozario's lawyers said they would be appealing against both conviction and sentence. Their client could have been jailed for up to five years for causing death by dangerous driving.

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