Public Prosecutor v Sapuran Singh s/o Bhajan Singh

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeWong Peck
Judgment Date23 May 2011
Neutral Citation[2011] SGDC 161
Citation[2011] SGDC 161
Publication Date24 June 2011
Docket NumberDAC 17242 of 2010 & DAC 1680 of 2011, Magistrate’s Appeal No. 106/2011/01
Plaintiff CounselInspector K Rasiah
Defendant CounselMr Gurdip Singh (M/s Harpal Mahtani Partnership)
District Judge Wong Peck:

The accused, Mr Sapuran Singh, claimed trial to 2 counts of failure to provide his breath specimen on 9th September 2008. For the first count (namely DAC 17242 of 2010), he was charged for his failure to provide his breath specimen which was an offence under section 70(4)(a) punishable under section 67(1) of the Road Traffic Act (“ RTA”) (Cap 276) at the Central Police Division. As for the second count (namely DAC 1680 of 2011), he was charged for his failure to provide his breath specimen which was an offence under section 69(4) of the RTA along North Canal Road, the location where he was stopped by police patrol officers. In addition, 2 charges were stood down at commencement of the trial on the understanding that the accused would be pleading guilty to these 2 charges. One of the stood down charges (namely DAC 17243 of 2010) was for using a handphone while driving SGJ 9550J which was an offence under section 65B of the RTA. The other charge (namely DAC 17244 of 2010) was for failure to wear his seat belt while driving SGJ 9950J which was an offence under Rule 4(1) of the Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Wearing of Seat Belts) Rules punishable under section 131(2) of the RTA.

At the conclusion of the trial, the accused was convicted and sentenced. Being dissatisfied, he is now appealing against both conviction and sentence for the 2 charges; namely DAC 17242 of 2010 and DAC 1680 of 2011. As the appeal was not against the sentence that I had meted out for the 2 stood down charges to which the accused had pleaded guilty to, I shall focus only on the conviction and sentencing of the other 2 charges. Although I had given oral grounds for the conviction prior to passing sentence, I now set out the full grounds of my decision.

Case for the Prosecution PW1-Senior Staff Sergeant Seah Chin Peng

According to PW1, he and his partner, Corporal Muhammad Harris bin Abdullah (“PW3”) were in uniform patrolling around the Boat Quay area on 9th September 2008 in early hours of the morning in a marked police patrol car. While they were patrolling along Eu Tong Sen Street at about 2.20am, PW1 saw the accused driving his vehicle SGJ 9550J in a zig-zag manner. Having seen this, the police patrol car pulled alongside the accused’s vehicle. PW1 saw that the accused was using his left hand to sms someone. He also noticed that the accused was not wearing his seat belt. He then motioned to the accused to stop his vehicle. When the accused alighted from his vehicle and came near to the police officers, PW1’s evidence was that there was a strong smell of alcohol emanating from the accused’s breath and he was unsteady in his gait.

As PW1’s patrol car was not equipped with a handheld breathalyzer, a request was made via police radio for one to be brought over from the Central Police Headquarters. Sergeant Jacob Chong (“PW2”) brought the breathalyzer to the scene approximately 10 minutes after PW1 made the request. Thereafter, PW1 informed the accused that he was going to conduct a breath test. However, the accused refused. PW1 then warned the accused of the consequences of failing to provide his breath sample. Again, the accused refused. According to PW1, he requested the accused to provide his breath specimen for a total of 5 times. As the accused continued to refuse to provide his breath specimen, PW1 then placed him under arrest.

Under cross examination, PW1 gave evidence that the accused had asked that he be let off as he was a Major in the army due for retirement in one month’s time. PW1 also issued an acknowledgement form which was admitted and marked as P2 to the accused as the accused’s handphone was confiscated for the offence of using handphone while driving. After the incident, PW1 lodged an arrest report outlining the details. This was admitted and marked as P1.

PW2- Sergeant Jacob Chong

PW2 was also performing patrol duties with Reservist Staff Sergeant Mohamed Irwan bin Mohamed Isa (“PW4”) when he was informed via police radio to bring a handheld breathalyzer to North Canal Road. According to PW2, as PW1 was performing “pro-active duties”, he was not equipped with the breathalyzer. However, PW2’s vehicle had a breathalyzer. Having brought the breathalyzer at about 3am to the scene at North Canal Road, PW2 stood at a distance of 1-2 metres away and saw PW1 attempting to conduct a breath test. Before the test could be administered, the accused was asked to pick 1 out of 3 straws. After choosing 1 straw which PW1 proceeded to install unto the breathalyzer, the accused refused to blow into the breathalyzer. This was all PW2 saw before he left the scene.

PW3-Muhammad Harris bin Abdullah

PW3’s evidence corroborated PW1’s evidence in that he also smelt alcohol on the accused’s breath after the accused had alighted from his car and had given his identification to PW1 for recording. PW3 then asked the accused if he had alcoholic drinks. The accused informed him that he had only 1 beer. Upon hearing this, PW1 decided to conduct a breath test. PW3 conveyed the request via police radio to the Operations Room for a breathalyzer.

After PW2 brought the breathalyzer, the accused refused to choose a straw. According to PW3, PW1 warned the accused for a total of 5 times of consequences of refusing to provide his breath specimen. Yet the accused refused to give his breath specimen. The accused was then placed under arrest at about 3.20am.

Under cross examination, PW 3 testified that the accused was driving normally. He also gave evidence that the accused was steady and talking normally. He did however corroborate PW1’s evidence that the accused had informed them that the accused was a army Major and was due for retirement. He also heard accused saying that if he were charged for drink driving, he would lose his pension.

PW4-Mr Mohamed Irwan bin Mohamed Isa

PW4 merely gave evidence that he and PW3 brought the breathalyzer to the scene for a suspected case of drink driving. Upon arrival with the machine, the machine was passed to PW1 for him to conduct the test.

PW5- Sergeant Syed Farouk Ezzat Alsagoff

According to PW5, the accused refused to give his breath specimen at the Central Police Division despite having been administered 2 warnings of the consequences of his failure to do so. The accused had informed him that he would only give his breath specimen if he “speaks to Traffic Police Investigation Officer in charge first.” The warning under section 70(5) of the RTA was administered and the form to reflect such a warning was admitted and marked as P4. The accused had also refused to sign on P5 to acknowledge that such a warning was administered to him.

PW6- Senior Station Inspector Eric Ng Thiam Chuan

PW6 testified that he was informed by the Operations Room that the accused’s breath smelt of alcohol and since he refused to provide his breath specimen, PW6 gave instruction for the accused to be arrested and brought to Central Police Station. PW6 also testified that he was told that the accused refused to provide his breath specimen at the Central Police Station. PW6 then gave instruction that the accused be requested for his blood specimen. But this was also rejected by the accused. PW6 was also told that the accused had asked to see him. PW6 did not see the accused at all throughout the whole incident.

Close of Prosecution’s case

At the close of the prosecution’s case, I applied the test in Hwa Tua Tau v PP [1980-1981] SLR 73. I was satisfied that a prima facie case had been made out against the accused on the elements of all the charges for which the accused faced, which if unrebutted, would warrant his conviction. Accordingly, I administered the standard allocution to the accused and called for his defence. The accused elected to give evidence in his own defence.

Case for Defence DW1- The accused

According...

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