Jail, driving ban for illegal ciggies, other offences

Tucked away in Joel Ng Li Yi's van last April was 235kg of contraband cigarettes.

But the van in a Woodlands slip road leading to Kranji Expressway was surrounded by three cars from Singapore Customs.

When the Customs officers ordered him to get out, Ng rammed the cars by repeatedly driving back and forth.

He then slipped through a narrow opening he created and led the officers on a 15-minute chase before he was arrested.

Yesterday, the 23-year-old was sentenced to 20 months' jail and banned from driving for six years for the various offences he committed on April 16 last year .

His bid to flee from the officers came to an end after he drove his van into a section of Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) that was closed for maintenance.

Ng hit and injured an engineer, who was with a group of workers at the BKE's central divider.

When his van slammed into a crane, he was forced to abandon it.

He fled on foot, but was arrested after a violent struggle.

Ng has since paid the man $500 in compensation.

He also paid $3,000 to Customs, although he caused $10,991.54 in damages to its vehicles.

In handing down Ng's punishment, District Judge Wong Choon Ning took into account his age and the fact that he had not committed an offence before.

She also noted that the engineer's injuries were minor.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Houston Johannus pointed out that Ng had "driven like a maniac", including running a red light, going against traffic on the BKE, and driving headlong into a group of people.

Ng admitted to the string of offences, including three charges relating to the contraband cigarettes, which he was to have been paid $200 to deliver.

The unpaid excise duty on the cigarettes was $82,720.

As for the speed chase, he admitted to offences that included rash driving and failing to stop and help after an accident.

The maximum penalty for rash driving that can cause hurt to others is a jail term of a year and a $5,000 fine.

This article was published on April 29 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.