SINGAPORE — A driver who sped at around twice the speed limit along Upper Bukit Timah Road, causing his car to careen into a tree and kill his cousin was sentenced to nine months’ jail on Monday (3 February).
Mohamad Suhairi Samri was also banned from driving for eight years.
The 30-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty to causing the death of 25-year-old Muhammad Raihan Rosman, who was the front seat passenger, through a rash act.
Another driver, Clarence Yen Ren Wei, who was seen in video footage to be driving abreast of Suhairi at one point in time, has been charged with dangerous driving. His case is still pending.
Suhairi, a former engineer, had been driving Raihan to supper along Upper Bukit Timah Road towards the direction of Clementi Road when the car skidded and collided onto a tree at the centre divider. Both Suhairi and Raihan were trapped in the car, and were eventually extracted out of the wreckage by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
While Suhairi was injured but conscious, his cousin pronounced dead at the scene.
Suhairi’s car was examined and found without mechanical defect. It had sustained severe damage to its steering wheel, hand brake, headlights, seat belts and tyres. Suhairi himself suffered multiple fractures on his ribs, pubic bone, and other injuries to his limbs. He was hospitalised for eight days.
Land Transport Authority cameras positioned along the road had captured the two cars travelling at a high speed over a segment of Upper Bukit Timah Road towards Jalan Anak Bukit. An analyst estimated the cars to be driving between 126 kmh and 165 kmh. The speed limit along Upper Bukit Timah Road is 70kmh.
The prosecution sought 10 months’ jail and an eight-year driving ban for Suhairi, saying that the driver had displayed a high degree of rashness.
Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed, Suhairi’s lawyer, said that Raihan had been Suhairi’s close cousin. Suhairi had sent his fiancee home and fetched his cousin when the accident occurred.
“His mind was totally blank and he cannot remember how the accident happened and now is unable to give an account of how the accident took place,” said the lawyer.
As a result of his injuries, Suhairi is unable to play rugby and football anymore. The parents of Raihan consider Suhairi as their son and have forgiven him. Both Suhairi and Raihan are the only sons in their families.
Reading out a letter from the uncle, dated 9 September 2019, the lawyer said, “We know (Suhairi and Raihan) were very close to one another as brothers could be.”
“In fact two weeks before accident, they were spending time together almost everyday. We witnessed pain and suffering as well as the feeling of guilt Suhairi has been carrying since that fateful night, words cannot describe the loss,” he said.
In sentencing Suhairi, District Judge Ong Luan Tze said that she had “much sympathy” due to the relationship between the deceased and the accused. “I have no doubt that this alone will haunt the accused for some time,” she said.
The judge added, however, that she did not think a sentencing discount would be warranted.
Driving is an “onerous responsibility” because of the potential harm that could be caused, and an appropriate sentence ought to be meted out to show that such violation of traffic rules would not be tolerated, she said.
For causing death through a rash act, Suhairi could have been jailed up to five years, fined, or both.
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