PETALING JAYA: A lorry driver involved in a crash that killed three people four years ago was spared a jail term after the Taiping High Court quashed his three-year prison sentence.
Judicial commissioner Muniandy Kannyappan, however, increased Yee Kar Heng’s fine from RM15,000 to RM24,000 after finding him guilty of a lesser charge of driving in a careless and inconsiderate manner under Section 43(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987.
Yee, 44, will have to serve 18 months in prison if he fails to pay the fine.
The High Court also ordered his conviction to be recorded in his driving licence.
The magistrates’ court had ordered Yee to be jailed for three years and fined him RM15,000 after finding him guilty of dangerous driving and causing death.
The court was told that Yee was driving the lorry from Sungai Siput to Kuala Kangsar at about 8pm on Sept 14, 2018, when he steered to the right after an animal crossed the road.
Yee claimed the victims’ car came onto his path from the opposite direction and hit the left side of the lorry.
Based on the investigating officer’s statement, the car was a total wreck and was dragged for about 50m pinned under the lorry.
The three occupants – driver Ashraf Hamdan Al-Fikri, 27, Irfan Hamdan Al-Fikri, 17, and Amirul Fahmi Samsudin, 12 – died on the spot.
Muniandy said the magistrate had failed to consider whether the death of the victims was immediately caused by the lorry.
“The prosecution had failed to prove dangerous driving on the part of the accused resulting in the accident for him to be found guilty and convicted under Section 41(1) of the Act,” he said.
He said the explanation offered by Yee, especially on the animal crossing the road and the manner by which the car had sped to collide into the lorry, was worthy of consideration.
“Otherwise, it would have been an impossibility for the car to have lodged itself underneath the lorry.
“If it was travelling at a reasonable speed, such a nasty crash would not have taken place. Likewise, if the lorry had been speeding, the crash onto the car would have been somewhat different, but definitely not for the car to have pinned itself underneath it.
“The act of swerving by the accused only fortifies his carefulness on the road, as per his track record wherein for the 17 years he had been driving a lorry, he had not met with any accident nor received a summons for a road traffic offence,” he said.
Muniandy also described the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses as “dubious”.
“For them to be so sure that the lorry was dangerously driven by the accused and had caused the accident is, in fact, beyond fathom as their testimonies were of the same rhyme, as if they had ‘rehearsed’ it before coming to court.”
He said such evidence should have been treated by the magistrate with caution in the first place.
Lawyer Amirul Fairuzzeen Jamaluddin appeared for Yee, while public prosecutor Waffy Ismail prosecuted.