SINGAPORE - A Maserati driver whose car dragged a police officer for more than 100m along Bedok Reservoir Road in 2017 was sentenced on Tuesday (July 28) to four years and seven months' jail with a lifetime driving ban.
District Judge Ng Peng Hong, who said that Lee Cheng Yan's offences "warranted a retributive and deterrent sentence", also ordered him to pay a fine of $3,700.
In December last year after a five-day trial, the judge found Lee, now 36, guilty of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to the policeman, Staff Sergeant Khairulanwar Abd Kahar, 26.
The policeman had stopped Lee on Nov 17, 2017 for driving without a seat belt. He approached the car to speak to the driver. Lee, who was under a driving ban at the time, instead fled the scene in his white Maserati.
Staff Sgt Khairulanwar was dragged along the road when his uniform got caught in the driver-side door of the car. When he fell onto the road, Lee sped off without rendering help.
Staff Sgt Khairulanwar was treated for pain over his right knee, neck and lower back in hospital. He was later given more than 20 days of medical leave.
Last December, Judge Ng had also found Lee guilty of nine other charges, including failing to stop after the accident and obstruction of justice.
The Singaporean has 59 other pending charges related to matters including unlawful gambling activities. These will be dealt with at a later date.
Before the sentencing, Deputy Public Prosecutor Senthilkumaran Sabapathy had urged Judge Ng to sentence Lee to four years and nine months' jail with a lifetime driving ban.
The DPP added that Staff Sgt Khairulanwar had suffered injuries that had a lasting impact and had lower back pain when carrying heavy items.
DPP Senthilkumaran also said that Lee, who committed a "brazen offence", had dragged the policeman along the road for a "considerable distance."
The prosecutor said: "(It was) fortuitous that the victim did not suffer more serious injuries."
Defence lawyer S. Balamurugan, however, pleaded for a sentence of not more than two years' jail, with a "high fine" and an "appropriate but not excessive" period of driving disqualification.
The lawyer also told Judge Ng that Lee has "adjustment disorder with anxious and depressed mood".
Mr Balamurugan said: "The accused also suffers from insomnia, and as a result, relies heavily on alcohol and sleeping pills to sleep even though (they) may be harmful to his health."
During the trial, the court had earlier heard that Lee, who owned the Maserati, drove the car on Nov 17, 2017, despite being disqualified owing to earlier traffic offences.
He also did not have the mandatory third-party risk insurance for the vehicle at the time of the incident.
Staff Sgt Khairulanwar had stopped Lee's white Maserati in Bedok Reservoir Road at about 9.20pm as Lee was not using his seat belt.
The policeman parked his motorcycle in front of the Maserati before dismounting. He then approached the car to speak to Lee, who wound down his window.
DPP Timotheus Koh had earlier said Lee "fled the scene by suddenly reversing the Maserati, before accelerating quickly forward while the victim was standing next to the driver-seat door".
Lee drove at between 79kmh and 84kmh, dragging Staff Sgt Khairulanwar for more than 100m before he fell onto the road. The Maserati then sped off, the court heard.
DPP Koh had said that after the accident, Lee abandoned the Maserati in Willow Avenue near Aljunied Road.
Lee later phoned a friend, marketing executive Jeff Chan, telling him that he had been involved in an "incident" with the Traffic Police.
Mr Chan testified in court last October that he tried to persuade Lee to surrender to the authorities.
He also said that at around 11pm, Lee asked if he could drive him home to Potong Pasir. But when they arrived there, they spotted patrol cars in the area.
Mr Chan said: "He didn't dare go home and asked to go back to my home again."
At Mr Chan's Kallang Bahru flat, Lee asked to borrow a T-shirt and he threw his own white top down a rubbish chute, the court heard.
Police turned up at Mr Chan's home at around 2am on Nov 18, 2017. Officers arrested Lee, who was charged in court later.
Lee, however, testified during the trial that he was not the driver of the Maserati when the accident took place.
He said that about two hours before the accident, he had given the car keys to a man known only as "Kelvin", whom he had known for about five months.
He added that he had lent the Maserati "reluctantly" to Kelvin, whom he did not know "that well".
The court heard that neither Kelvin's surname nor address was given by Lee to the investigation officer handling the case.
DPP Senthilkumaran then questioned the existence of Kelvin and told Lee: "You are obviously lying."
Lee insisted he was telling the truth.
On Tuesday, Mr Balamurugan told the court that Lee intends to appeal against his conviction and sentence.
For causing grievous hurt to a policeman, an offender be jailed for up to 15 years and fined or caned.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.