A delivery driver has been jailed for 13 months and disqualified from driving for five years after pleading guilty to four charges, including causing death by a negligent act.
Muhammad Nizam Abdul Karim caused the death of a 16-year-old girl, who fell out of a van driven by Nizam when he abruptly drove off and made a sharp right turn before she had a chance to close the door.
The 22-year-old also pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving and two drug-related charges Wednesday (Apr 20).
A District Court heard Nizam, who had gotten his driving licence less than three months prior, had been driving a company van along Bedok South Avenue 2 on the evening of Apr 12, 2014, when he “ploughed straight into” a pedestrian crossing the road.
Fiddling with his GPS and oblivious to his surroundings, Nizam failed to stop at a light and collided into the 18-year-old student, who was flung “about one lamp post’s length away” and lost consciousness, Assistant Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok told the court.
Less than 10 hours later, Nizam got into another accident, this time resulting in the death of a 16-year-old girl. Nizam took the van - which was damaged, with a “severely cracked” windscreen - to pick up some friends at Changi Beach Park, among them the 16-year-old victim and her younger sister, and their friend Izzat.
Around 5.30am, the victim got into the van and was pulling the door shut when Nizam abruptly drove off and made a sharp right turn. The girl was still holding on to the door handle, and was flung out of the van as the door swung wide open.
The girl fell onto the road, with the back of her head hitting the ground. Her sister and Izzat wanted to call for an ambulance, but Nizam stopped them, afraid that he may lose his licence. He told them to let the victim rest in the van instead. At this point, the girl’s eyes were open but she was unresponsive, court documents said.
By 7.20am, the victim’s sister noticed the victim’s condition had deteriorated and decided to seek help. A sporting event was ongoing at the park and Izzat ran to the first aid tent to alert a paramedic. Nizam was not around, having left to chat with a friend at the beach nearby.
More than two hours after the accident, an ambulance was finally called but efforts to save the victim were in vain and she was pronounced dead at Changi General Hospital.
An autopsy concluded that she died from severe head injuries, and stated that “early and timely medical attention may (have increased her) chances of survival”.
APP Kok said Nizam should not have driven the damaged van after the first accident and should have returned it to the company for repairs. Instead, hours after colliding into a pedestrian, Nizam was, again, “grossly negligent” in not making sure the victim had closed the door before driving off.
His complete disregard for the girl’s well-being is evident from his actions post-accident, APP Kok said, pointing to the fact that Nizam had stopped the victim’s sister and Izzat from calling an ambulance straightaway.
This was “selfish and irresponsible”, APP Kok said, adding that Nizam’s actions took away any chance the victim may have had for survival if she had been attended to earlier.
Nizam’s lawyer N Sudha Nair said her client is remorseful that his actions led to the death of a friend, and that he will always “live with this guilt”. Nizam genuinely thought the girl’s injuries were not life-threatening, as there had been no bleeding from the head, Ms Nair said, calling the incident “a freak accident”.
In November 2015, Nizam was caught with drugs, and charged with the consumption and possession of methamphetamine.
In sentencing Nizam, District Judge Luke Tan said Nizam had been “selfish” and had “made a bad situation even worse” by dissuading the girl’s sister and Izzat from calling an ambulance.
Judge Tan also remarked that Nizam “should not be allowed to enjoy the privilege of driving”. “In his hands, the vehicle is a danger to others ... and also to himself”, the judge said. For causing death by a negligent act, Nizam could have been jailed up to two years and/or fined.