SINGAPORE: A man who drove against the flow of traffic on the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) three years ago was sentenced to a year's jail on Monday (Nov 25).
Lim Chai Heng, who left a trail of destruction while going against the flow of traffic for nearly 2km from Tuas Checkpoint, had been suffering from acute psychosis at the time of the incident, according to the judgment by Judicial Commissioner Vincent Hoong.
His actions left one person dead and four others injured.
The 56-year-old, who is the sole proprietor of a small business, was charged with carrying out a rash act not amounting to culpable homicide.
He pleaded guilty to the offence.
Four other charges relating to the hurt or grievous hurt caused by a rash act which endangered the life or personal safety of others were also taken into consideration for sentencing purposes.
Lim was also banned from driving for 12 years.
"DO NOT BE AFRAID, I KNOW THE WAY"
On the day of the incident in December 2016, Lim was driving his son to his son's workplace at the Central Manpower Base along Depot Road, according to the judgment. It was his son's first day of work.
He was driving from their home in Hougang along the Central Expressway (CTE) towards the AYE. After he passed the Braddell Road exit, Lim's son asked why he did not exit the CTE to avoid Electronic Road Pricing charges.
"Do not be afraid, I know the way," Lim replied.
However, Lim then continued onto the AYE, increasing his speed to about 100kmh.
Despite various requests from his son to exit the expressway Lim refused, saying that his son did not trust him.
"He did not take the subsequent 14 exits on the AYE, and reached the end of the AYE at Tuas Checkpoint after travelling approximately 23km on the AYE," said the judgment.
"By this point, he had far exceeded his intended destination."
He then drove into the motorcycle lane at Tuas Checkpoint, only stopping when the lane became too narrow for his car.
He then "carefully made a three-point turn" and began driving back against the flow of traffic, with oncoming motorcycles having to stop upon seeing his car, said the judgment.
Eventually, he merged back into the car lane but continued to drive against the flow of traffic, through the Tuas Checkpoint Departure Viaduct and back onto the AYE.
At this point, he was driving on lane one, and approached a vehicle driven by Tan Han Boon.
Tan swerved to avoid Lim's car but in doing so collided with a bus on the next lane. His car spun across the front of the bus and hit a concrete wall.
Lim's car then collided head-on with another car on lane one, causing it to veer from lane one to lane three, tilt to a vertical position and slam against a concrete wall.
The driver of the Toyota Vios, actor Jackie Liong Kuo Hwa, was pronounced dead on the scene, while his wife suffered multiple fractures and had to have surgery.
After that collision, Lim's car veered onto lane three and collided head-on with a motor scooter. The force of the impact caused the rider, Teh Tze Yong, and his wife Choo Yat Chiam (who was riding pillion) to be flung from the scooter.
Lim's car continued veering until it finally collided with a concrete wall and came to a halt.
Mr Teh and Ms Choo both suffered multiple fractures and had to have surgery, while Mr Tan suffered abrasions.
SUFFERING FROM ACUTE PSYCHOSIS
At the time of the offence, Lim was suffering from acute psychosis which significantly impaired his judgment, said the judgment citing reports by Dr Jerome Goh, Senior Consultant and Chief of the Department of General and Forensic Psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health, who examined Lim.
The day before the incident, Lim had reported he felt his willpower was being "controlled by God", and that he had been hearing voices.
On the day of the incident, Lim said he felt he was "not allowed" to turn off at the exit closes to his son's workplace.
He told his son that "God today won't let you go to work".
When his son asked where they were going after missing the Bukit Merah exit closest to his son's workplace, Lim said he did not know where God wanted to take them, Judge Hoong noted in his judgment.
However, Lim was not of unsound mind and he was aware of the "nature and quality of his actions", including his act of driving against the flow of traffic, said the judicial commissioner.
Judge Hoong added that although the eventual sentence might appear harsh, he also highlighted the loss of life and "multitude of serious injuries" caused by the incident.
"My evaluation of the applicable principles has led me to conclude that it is the most appropriate sentence having regard to the overall circumstances of this difficult and most unfortunate case," he said.
"Amidst the multitude of serious injuries caused, a human life has also been lost."