Jail for private hire driver who drove car into condo pool while ferrying elderly passenger
A private hire driver ferrying an elderly passenger failed to follow the instructions of two security officers and drove his car into a swimming pool at The Hillside condominium.
There were no pool users at the time, and the 79-year-old female passenger managed to alight via a rear passenger door unhurt when the front tyres of the car entered the water at the Upper Bukit Timah Road property.
Chean Tuck Heng, 67, was sentenced to two weeks’ jail on Friday after he pleaded guilty to committing a rash act and endangering life while operating a piece of machinery.
He was then a driver for ride-hailing platform Gojek when he picked up the woman in a white Honda Vezel near her granddaughter’s Fernvale Road home in Sengkang shortly before 8pm on Feb 28.
Chean was then instructed to drop the senior citizen off at a lobby at The Hillside.
He arrived at the entrance of the condominium at around 9pm, and a security officer told him to proceed to a junction and make a right turn.
Instead of complying, Chean drove past the junction, prompting his passenger to ask him why he did so.
He then replied that he “knew the way” before turning onto a tiled pedestrian walkway and running over some potted plants.
He continued to drive along the walkway and stopped his car when a second security officer approached the vehicle.
The officer told Chean to reverse the car onto a nearby road after telling him that vehicles were not allowed in the area and that the driver was also near a swimming pool.
The court heard that the pool was about 60m away from the start of the walkway.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Quek Lu Yi said: “However, the accused did not reverse the car as directed by the security officer. The accused saw that there were some tables and chairs on the tiled walkway and wanted to go around it to make a three-point turn.
“(The officer told him) that he was driving towards the swimming pool. The accused stated that it was rainwater and not the swimming pool.”
Chean continued driving the vehicle and only stopped when its front tyres entered the swimming pool that was 0.5m deep.
The police were alerted, and he was later charged in court in June.
The DPP said that the offender’s actions caused damage to items including the grass lawn and tiles around the pool.
The condominium’s management incurred repair costs of over $600.
On Friday, DPP Quek asked for Chean to be given between two and four weeks’ jail, stressing that he had acted with a high degree of rashness.
She also said that the potential for harm to human life arising from his offence was significant, adding: “Driving a vehicle into the pool would pose a clear risk to the life of the victim and other pool users...It was fortuitous that the pool was only 0.5m in depth and there were no...pool users.
“The accused drove along a pedestrian walkway for an extended distance, and could have collided with pedestrians who would not have expected the presence of a vehicle.”
For committing the offence, Chean could have been jailed for up to a year and fined up to $5,000.