Killer driver gets three months
Woman who ran a red light to appeal sentence after being found guilty of causing death of girl, 5, and woman
A woman who jumped a red light in her car and killed a young woman and a five-year-old girl was sentenced to three months' jail yesterday.
Park Myung-hwa, 37, a former interior designer who had pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing death, said she would appeal.
'It was a deliberate act of jumping the red light,' Eastern Court magistrate Eddie Yip Chor-man said.
Told by defence lawyer Toby Jenkyn-Jones that an appeal would be lodged, Mr Yip granted Park $30,000 bail and ordered her to surrender her passport and report weekly to police.
Park, who had been driving for eight years - three in Hong Kong and five in South Korea - drove through a red light at the junction of Hing Fat Street and Victoria Park Road, Causeway Bay, and hit a taxi on January 15 last year.
Park's car swerved onto the safety island, crashing into a crowd of people waiting to cross.
Lee Chun-yee, five, who attended St Peter's Church Kindergarten in North Point, and Cheng Fung-yee, 23, were killed and six other people injured.
Mr Jenkyn-Jones asked the court not to jail the remorseful Park, who has a 22-month-old son.
'She deeply regrets and sympathises with the families [of the deceased],' Mr Jenkyn-Jones said, adding that Park had her own 'family obligations' to fulfil.
He said Park had tried to plead guilty to careless driving but the prosecution had turned down the lesser charge.
Mr Jenkyn-Jones said Park, who did not have any criminal or driving convictions - had been 'under tremendous pressure' and had sought medical help since the accident. 'She has not even had a parking ticket before. After the accident she was shaken and confused. Now she is not sleeping well as a result,' he said. He said Park did not understand the traffic junction, which she was using for the first time. Mr Jenkyn-Jones said the government had decided before the accident to improve the junction because many motorists had been found jumping the lights. Yet it was months after the accident before the government implemented changes, such as increasing the size of the traffic lights.
But the magistrate remained unconvinced. 'I do not accept the mitigation that the defendant was confused by the traffic light at that time, or that there was a fusion of the yellow [no-stopping] boxes into one,' Mr Yip said. He said there were five-second lapses between traffic lights and it would have been impossible to have a collision if Park had not been speeding.
'I don't find her evidence credible. She falls far below a careful and competent driver,' he said.
'This is a serious case of dangerous driving at a major junction where two multi-lanes meet. At that time there were lots of pedestrians around, particularly on the safety island. Imprisonment is the only option open to me.'