Bankrupt driver jailed over death of worker

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:10pm


A bankrupt businesswoman has been jailed for three years for dangerous driving causing death after a trial in which video footage from a taxi at the scene of an accident showed she had lied to police.

The Mercedes-Benz driven by Lam Ying-yu, 40, hit the back of a taxi at the site of road works, sending it cannoning into three workers including Chow Shu-tak, 61, who died.

The District Court heard that Lam initially told police she had stopped at a road junction before setting off again and hitting the taxi.

But the footage, from a camera mounted on another taxi not involved in the accident, showed she did not stop.

'As evidenced by the video evidence, what she told police was a lie,' Judge Susana D'Almada Remedios said when sentencing Lam yesterday.

'The video left no other option to the defendant but to change her original account to police that she had stopped.

'Without this video, this case would have been hard-fought.'

The judge also disqualified the former securities investor from driving for five years and ordered her to take a driving improvement course.

Lam had denied dangerous driving but admitted careless driving.

The court heard the taxi briefly became airborne after being hit by Lam's car in Morrison Hill Road near Sports Road - a recognised traffic blackspot - in Wan Chai on the morning of September 21 last year.

The taxi had the right of way and there were road markings and signs telling vehicles coming from Lam's direction to stop.

The two surviving workers and the taxi driver were injured.

The incriminating video was available because of a growing practice among full-time drivers in taxis, buses and trucks to put cameras in their vehicles to provide evidence if needed in court cases and disputes.

During the trial, Lam said she had been suffering emotional problems at the time because she had been declared bankrupt about a month earlier, after a broker misused one of her accounts and lost HK$28 million.

She had previously employed a chauffeur and had not been familiar with the road, although she had earlier lived at nearby Leighton Hill, the court heard.

But the judge said the highway code required drivers who were unwell or upset to keep their speed down if they must drive, and Lam, who knew she was unfamiliar with the roads there, should have been careful.

Her lawyer, Peter Duncan SC, said his client had been diagnosed with a depressive illness because of the case and bankruptcy.