No immediate jail for couple who let infant steer car

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 November, 2011, 12:00am

A couple in court for posting online a video showing their 18-month-old son steering a car faced immense pressure that had grown out of proportion, a magistrate said yesterday, but some punishment was necessary because their act could have had irreversible consequences.

Acting Principal Magistrate Rickie Chan Kam-cheong yesterday heard mitigation on behalf of Keith Yu Cho-kwong, 32, who has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, and wife Ng Lai-wa, 27, who admits aiding and abetting the offence.

'They are the ones to blame,' Chan said of Yu and Ng, who was weeping.

'They are parents who should not expose their children to any sort of danger,' he said. 'If the infant lost balance, would you control the car or save the baby? You would not know.'

Chan adjourned sentencing for two weeks pending probation and community service reports, saying the couple did not deserve an immediate jail term.

On August 1, Ng filmed a one-minute, 50-second video showing the infant sitting on her husband's lap and steering a BMW in Cheung Sha Wan near the Hoi Lai public housing estate.

The video was posted on Facebook and soon went viral.

Police started an investigation, but Yu turned himself in at Aberdeen police station on August 4. He and his wife were arrested within three weeks, after police collected evidence.

They appeared in court yesterday for the second time. On their first appearance a week ago, the magistrate told them to hire a lawyer because the offences could put them in jail.

Yesterday, their lawyers presented six letters of mitigation from relatives, colleagues and friends. They said the pair - who have no criminal record - committed the offence because of ignorance.

The lawyers said that the road where the incident happened had little traffic and no pedestrians, and that the father was in control of the car's pedals even though his son was steering it. The defence also presented dozens of pages showing a barrage of criticism of the couple from internet users.

Chan criticised the online insults, adding: 'This is the danger of modern society. You cannot control how your information is handled.'

The video was first uploaded to the pair's Facebook page, but another person later posted it on YouTube, Kwun Tong Court heard yesterday.