The appellant appealed essentially on the basis that a custodial sentence ought to have been imposed on the respondent.
Some important questions were raised, particularly in relation to the appropriate sentencing benchmarks and considerations that should guide sentencing decisions in cases of negligent driving which result in death and which are prosecuted under s 304A(.2 At the end of the hearing, we allowed the appeal and varied the sentence to four weeks’ imprisonment.
The evidence did not show that the respondent had made a decision to drive despite knowing that she was very tired and sleepy.
In particular, it had not been proved that she knew that she would, in all likelihood, fall asleep at the wheel at the time she decided to drive (see likewise [10(iv)] of the GD).(f) The respondent did not break any traffic rules at the material time and was travelling within the speed limit (at [10(v)] of the GD).(g) In the aftermath of the accident, the respondent had wanted to call for an ambulance, but was informed that that had already been done.
Due to the nature of her work, which required her to work 12-hour shifts, the respondent “could only meet up with friends during the night and in the wee hours of the morning” (at [10(iii)] of the GD).(b) The respondent had just bought the Avante shortly before the accident and was still getting used to it (at [10(iii)] of the GD).(c) What happened on the day of the accident was unfortunate as the respondent had “blanked out for a moment due to her tired mental state” (see likewise [10(iii)] of the GD).(d) Although the respondent had not had proper sleep for the 24-hour period preceding the accident, she had taken some, albeit insufficient, precautions.
In particular, she had taken a short rest in her car after finishing work on 14 March 2013 before meeting her friends later that night (at [10(iv)] of the GD).(e) The length of time without sleep that a driver could endure without experiencing adverse effects that might affect his ability to drive was a subjective factor.
The lorry driver and his front passenger were also injured.
At the time of the accident, the weather was fine, the road surface was dry, visibility was clear and traffic flow was light.5 In the respondent’s mitigation plea, her counsel, Mr Akramjeet Singh Khaira (“Mr Khaira”), submitted that the respondent was unable to recall how the collision happened; the only explanation put forward was that she “in all probability, blanked out due to her tired mental state”.
She had even made several trips to Hindu temples to pray for the soul of the deceased victim as well as for those who had been injured and all their family members (at [10(viii)] of the GD).(i) General deterrence had a limited role in sentencing in s 304A() traffic death cases (as defined at  above) because “law-abiding persons are apt to be revolted by the prospect of injuring others by their driving and therefore do not need the added disincentive of a criminal penalty to keep them from offending” (at [10(ix)] of the GD, citing  SGDC 245 at ).The DJ noted that in Singapore, employers were allowed, subject to certain requirements, to transport their workers in the rear cabin of lorries (at  of the GD).8 The issue in this case, the DJ stated, centred on the culpability of the respondent.In his view, the aggravating factors were that: (a) the respondent had momentarily blanked out while driving; and (b) the collision had resulted in enormous and tragic consequences (at  of the GD).9 The DJ considered, on the one hand, that the thin skull rule did not apply in criminal cases (citing ”)), and thus, a person could not be imputed to intend all the consequences, no matter how remote, of an act done by him on another.The respondent, Hue An Li (“the respondent”), was involved in a tragic vehicular accident when she momentarily dozed off while driving and collided into a lorry.Among other consequences, this caused the death of a passenger in the lorry.There were nine foreign workers being transported in the rear cabin of the lorry at that time, all of whom were thrown out of the vehicle as a result of the collision.Of the nine, eight were injured, while one was pronounced dead at the scene.Whether a custodial sentence ought to be imposed would depend on the nature and extent of the offender’s culpability: the more serious the negligence, the more a custodial sentence would be warranted (see likewise  of the GD).The DJ quoted extensively from the decision of the High Court in ”), which laid down (at ) the following propositions:(a) Driving while feeling sleepy was not an offence, let alone an offence of rashness.According to the First Information Report, the police were notified of the accident at 7.22am on 15 March 2013.4 At the material time, the respondent was travelling westwards in the middle lane of the three-lane Pan-Island Expressway.She spotted a slow-moving lorry in the leftmost lane and decided to overtake the lorry, which was travelling at about 60–65 km/h.