Ngian Chin Boon v Public Prosecutor

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date17 October 1998
Neutral Citation[1998] SGHC 346
Citation[1998] SGHC 346
Subject MatterWhether error in charge a ground for revision,Whether sentence manifestly excessive,Custodial sentence of two months,Doing an act so negligently as to endanger human life,Sentencing,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Revision of proceedings,Whether statement of facts satisfy every element of offence charged,Whether court in revision proceedings has power to amend error in charge
Published date19 September 2003
Date17 October 1998
Plaintiff CounselN Sreenivasan (Derrick Ravi & Partners)
Docket NumberCriminal Revision No 19 of 1998 (Magistrate Appeal No 162 of 1998)
Defendant CounselWinston Cheng Howe Ming (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Judgment:

YONG PUNG HOW CJ

This was a petition for criminal revision of a decision of a subordinate court and an appeal against the sentence imposed. The application for revision was dismissed, but the appeal was allowed. I now give my reasons for the decision.

2. The facts

The petitioner pleaded guilty in the subordinate court to the following charge:

You, Ngian Chin Boon, Male 34 Years, FIN No F 1561151 X, Nationality: Malaysian, B 119 Jln Sekolah Cina 81000 Kulai, are charged that you, on or about 20 January 1998 at about 4.43am, at Pan Island Expressway in front of Victoria School towards Jurong, Singapore, did an act so negligently as to endanger human life, to wit, by failing to ensure that sufficient warning signs were carried and displayed behind the stationary motor lorry YB 7373 X by your driver, one Muthuvadu Ganathan Ganesan, male 26 years while carrying out the work and subsequently resulted the driver of motor car EP 8116 D, Azhar Bin Ali, male 26 years to collide into the rear of the motor lorry and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under s 336 of the Penal Code (Cap 224).

Section 336 of the Penal Code provides that:

[w]hoever does any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life or the personal safety of others, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 months, or with fine which may extend to $250, or with both.

3.The plea of guilt was made to a statement of facts, which the petitioner admitted without qualification. In summary, it stated that on 20 January 1998, at about 4.10am, the petitioner, while working at Temasek Boulevard, instructed his driver, one Muthuvadu Ganathan Ganesan, to proceed to the Pan Island Expressway (Kolam Ayer) in front of Victoria School towards Jurong to remove a plastic wrapping dangling from the overhead Electronic Road Pricing gantry. The petitioner`s driver left for the site immediately, arriving there at about 4.35am. He parked his lorry on the second right lane of the Expressway beneath the overhead gantry to remove the plastic wrapping. He failed to display sufficient warning signs to forewarn other road users of the presence of the stationary lorry on the road. Subsequently, a car EP 8116 D collided into the rear of the stationary lorry. The driver of the car died as a result of the accident. The statement of facts alleged that the petitioner had done an act endangering human life by `failing to ensure that sufficient warning signs were carried and displayed behind the stationary motor lorry by his driver during the process of the work and subsequently resulted the driver of the motor car to collide into the rear of the motor lorry`.

4.In the plea in mitigation, defence counsel submitted that a custodial sentence should not be imposed. It was pointed out, inter alia, that the petitioner had been instructed by Philips Consortium to send workers to remove the plastic wrapping on the day in question, and had been told that the work had to be done urgently. There were no available signboards at that time which the petitioner could have provided the driver. The petitioner had, however, managed to find a revolving light which he gave to the driver.

5.The district judge considered that there had been `callous negligence` on the part of the petitioner in sending his workers to the site without the requisite warning signs to be placed behind the stationary lorry to forewarn other road users of the presence of the vehicle. A deterrent sentence was thought to be appropriate so as to prevent the petitioner as well as others from committing similar offences in the future. The district judge took the view that even the maximum fine of $250 would not suffice to manifest the stand of the court and achieve the intended purpose of deterrence. As a result, the petitioner was sentenced to two months` imprisonment.

6. The petition for criminal revision

The petitioner sought revision of his conviction, claiming that there had been a serious miscarriage of justice in convicting him on the charge preferred against him. It was contended that the charge was flawed since the petitioner had never been at the Pan Island Expressway at 4.43am on 20 January 1998. It was also contended that the statement of facts, although containing an adequate summary of the material facts, did not disclose any offence under s 336 of the Penal Code. Counsel submitted that the petitioner`s failure to provide his driver with any warning signs or lights other than the one revolving light which he had managed to find was not so negligent as to give rise to...

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35 cases
  • Shan Kai Weng v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 6 November 2003
    ...strikes at its basis as an exercise of judicial power: see Ang Poh Chuan v PP [1996] 1 SLR 326 at 330, followed in Ngian Chin Boon v PP [1999] 1 SLR 119 and Balasubramanian Palaniappa Vaiyapuri v PP [2002] 1 SLR 16 Whereas the function of the appellate court is to examine the evidence and c......
  • Balasubramanian Palaniappa Vaiyapuri v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 23 January 2002
    ...court below, which struck at its basis as an exercise of judicial power: see Ang Poh Chuan v PP [1996] 1 SLR 326, Ngian Chin Boon v PP [1999] 1 SLR 119, PP v Mohamed Noor bin Abdul Majeed [2000] 3 SLR Lack of jurisdiction to hear the charge 10 Section 3(2) of the Tokyo Convention Act (Cap 3......
  • S Balakrishnan and Another v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 17 August 2005
    ...has caused grievous injury or death by a rash act, whereas a fine may suffice if the act has only been negligent: Ngian Chin Boon v PP [1999] 1 SLR 119 for s 338 and PP v Gan Lim Soon [1993] 3 SLR 261 for s 304A. A further factor considered by the judge was that since public interest was at......
  • Ng So Kuen Connie v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 1 August 2003
    ...37 of 1952. In that amendment, the maximum fine under s 336 of the Penal Code was increased from $125 to $250. In Ngian Chin Boon v PP [1999] 1 SLR 119, I made the following observation about the maximum fine limit under s 336 of the Penal The maximum quantum of the fine under s 336 was leg......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Sentencing
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review Nbr. 2000, December 2000
    • 1 December 2000
    ...at its basis as an exercise of judicial power by the court below: Ang Poh Chuan v PP[1996] 1 SLR 326, followed in Ngian Chin Boon v PP[1999] 1 SLR 119 and PP v Mohamed Noor bin Abdul Majeed[2000] 3 SLR 17. On the facts of Tea Hee Heng, the Chief Justice held that it was not a case that just......

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