SINGAPORE, June 5 — Heavily intoxicated after a binge-drinking session, Lee Wai Yee decided to jump into an unattended lorry at Orchard Towers and drive off, even though she did not have a driver’s licence.
She collided into a taxi, injuring its driver, and drove so recklessly for about 2km that several cartons of drinks fell off the back of the lorry.
The 26-year-old Malaysian was jailed two months and one week yesterday, and banned from driving for two years after she is released.
She pleaded guilty to three charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, taking and driving the lorry without the owner’s permission, and rash driving. Another charge of driving the lorry without a Class 3 driving licence was taken into consideration for sentencing.
District Judge Toh Yung Cheong told Lee during sentencing: “Intoxication is really not an excuse for crimes of this nature. It’s very lucky that no serious injury was caused, though there was serious property damage.”
Drinking at two places
The court heard that Lee first drank at a pub in the Joo Chiat area for a few hours, before drinking some more alcohol with a friend at a club in the Orchard Road area.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jarret Huang said that Lee admitted to consuming a mixture of beers and liquors, and was very drunk by about 4.30am on February 21, 2017.
When Lee decided to leave the club, she saw a delivery driver’s white Isuzu lorry parked at the loading and unloading bay of Orchard Towers. The driver had left the engine running and the keys in the ignition, while he delivered some bottles of soft drinks to shops in Orchard Towers.
She then took the chance to hop onto the lorry and drive off. The lorry driver tried to chase her on foot when he returned, but failed as she took off at about 30km/h.
While driving along Orchard Road, Lee swerved from right to left at high speed and hit the door of Foo Chee Ning’s stationary taxi, resulting in the entire door being dislodged and unhinged.
The impact also pushed the taxi forward, causing it to hit the back of another taxi.
It also caused Foo, then 67, to jerk backwards, leading to pain and numbness in his neck that persisted after the incident. He was eventually given four days of medical leave.
The collision did not stop Lee.
“She picked up speed and eventually turned left from Claymore Road to Orchard Road, not slowing down while turning. Her rash and unsteady driving, coupled with her fast speed, caused many cartons of 100-Plus bottled and canned drinks to fall out of the rear of the lorry,” DPP Huang said.
She then continued driving along Orchard Road in the direction of Dhoby Ghaut. Along the way, she abruptly braked and began reversing against the flow of traffic towards a car driven by Zulkurnain Salim.
She collided into his car, leaving it heavily dented and bent out of shape, but he was unhurt by the accident. The rear of the lorry was damaged, crumpled and heavily scratched.
Realising she was not moving, Zulkurnain went over to confront her. He shouted at her to stop engaging the gear to drive, but she did not comply.
Out of desperation, he opened the lorry door and pulled the keys out of the ignition.
She followed his instructions to sit by the kerb to wait for the police, after he noticed that she reeked of alcohol. The lorry driver then arrived, having hitched a ride in a van driven by a passer-by to look for his vehicle.
A breathalyser test showed that Lee had 53 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath in her body, which is above the legal limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath.
‘Asked for her mother’
DPP Huang sought two to three months’ jail for Lee, noting her “fairly sustained course of conduct” and the “very high potential harm” she could have caused.
In mitigation, Lee’s lawyer Henry Lim said that his client had no intention to commit any offences before binge-drinking. She had never driven a car before, but “inexplicably” gotten into the lorry when she saw its door open.
“She was quite shocked at her conduct When she was let down from the lorry, she set down on the side of the kerb and cried and asked for her mother. She is absolutely remorseful, and she has not touched a single drink anymore,” Lim said.
The lawyer added that Lee is now being sued over the incident, and is working in an events company to pay the damages sought in the civil claim. He did not give more details.
District Judge Toh granted Lee’s request to start serving her sentence on July 2, to allow her to earn the money needed to pay those damages. — TODAY