Man who drove against traffic had acute psychosis, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Man who drove against traffic had acute psychosis

This article is more than 12 months old

Court told that driver who caused fatal crash was 'significantly impaired' by condition

The driver of a Mercedes-Benz that barrelled down the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) against the flow of traffic nearly three years ago, leaving one dead and four injured, was suffering from acute psychosis at the time, the High Court heard yesterday.

The mental condition "significantly impaired" the judgment of businessman Lim Chai Heng, 56, leading him to discount the risks of his actions, despite signs of danger and warnings from his son, who was in the car with him, stated an Institute of Mental Health (IMH) report.

Lim told an IMH psychiatrist that when he saw cars and motorcycles coming towards him, he "knew finished already" and that "if not others hit (him), (he) will hit others".

The underlying cause of the psychosis remains unclear.

Lim pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of causing death by a rash act, which carries a maximum sentence of five years' jail and a fine.

Prosecutors sought at least two years' jail and a 12-year driving ban, while the defence asked for five to seven months' jail and an eight-year ban. Another four charges - three for causing grievous hurt and one for causing hurt - will be considered when he is sentenced at a later date.


The court heard that on the morning of Dec 19, 2016, Lim was driving his son from their Hougang home to his new workplace in Depot Road.

Lim Chai Heng drove against the flow of traffic down the AYE three years ago, leaving one dead and four injured. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO FILE

Along the Central Expressway, when Lim drove past the Braddell Road exit, his son asked why he did not take the exit to avoid paying Electronic Road Pricing charges.

Lim replied: "Do not be afraid. I know the way."

But Lim continued driving into the AYE towards Tuas. He skipped another 14 exits and accused the younger man of not trusting him.

Lim reached the Tuas Checkpoint and drove into the motorcycle lane. He then made a three-point turn and drove on as oncoming vehicles avoided him.

When he entered the AYE, he sped down the slope towards the Tuas West underpass.

Motorist Tan Han Boon, now 37, swerved, causing his Mazda 6 to collide with a bus before hitting a concrete wall.

Lim's car then collided with a Toyota Vios driven by artist Jackie Liong Kuo Hwa, 38, whose wife Venny Oliver, now 40, was in the front passenger seat. The impact slammed the Toyota against the wall.

Lim's car then crashed into a scooter, causing rider Teh Tze Yong and his wife Choo Yat Chiam, both now 37, who was riding pillion, to be flung from the vehicle.

The Mercedes finally came to a halt after hitting the wall.

Mr Liong died at the scene from multiple injuries. Ms Oliver, Mr Teh and Ms Choo suffered multiple fractures while Mr Tan suffered multiple abrasions.

Referring to sentencing guidelines, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan argued that but for Lim's mental condition, he would be facing a starting-point jail term of at least 41/2 years for showing an "extremely high degree of rashness".

The DPP said Lim should be jailed at least two years, after taking into account his mental condition and applying a discount for his guilty plea.

Defence counsel Yusfiyanto Yatiman argued that Lim was remorseful and a first offender, and that his acute psychosis had diluted his culpability.