Hit-and-run driver asks for leniency

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 May, 2012, 12:00am


A minivan driver who ran over a two-year-old girl in Foshan, Guangdong, last October and then drove off pleaded for leniency as his trial for manslaughter began yesterday.

The death of Wang Yue sparked a nationwide outpouring of grief and soul-searching, and interest in the trial at Foshan's Nanhai District People's Court was high. The hearing was adjourned after four hours, with no verdict handed down.

If convicted of manslaughter, 24-year-old driver Hu Jun could be jailed for between three and seven years. His defence lawyer argued that he should instead be charged with causing a traffic accident resulting in death, which would mean that he would face a jail term ranging from one to three years.

Surveillance camera footage of the October 13 incident was posted on the internet three days later, attracting more than 1.5 million hits. It showed the girl, known as Yueyue, being knocked down by a white minivan, with one of its front wheels rolling over her upper body. The van driver stopped briefly but did not get out. He then drove off, striking the girl's waist with his back wheel.

The court was shown footage of the hit-and-run and 18 passers-by callously walking or driving past Yueyue as she lay bleeding in the road, until an elderly woman, Chen Xianmei , eventually pulled her to one side and helped locate her mother. Yueyue died in hospital nine days later.

Local media reported that a second driver, whose light truck ran over the injured toddler's legs, was released on bail.

Hu turned himself in to police after watching the video. The court heard that Hu had been collecting money from stores in a noisy Guangfo metal hardware market and was driving without headlights during a heavy downpour. The court heard Hu did not realise he had run over the girl until three days later.

The court was packed with journalists, but only two relatives of Yueyue's father attended the hearing. They declined to speak to the press.

Hu pleaded for leniency, admitting his wrongdoing and apologising to Yueyue's family. 'I am willing to accept the punishment of the law,' he told the court. 'I offer my apology for the loss and pain of the victim's family ... I would like to ask the court to consider a lighter charge of traffic accident resulting in death.'