Minibus driver jailed for killing cyclist

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2012, 12:00am


The driver of a red-topped minibus has been sentenced to three years in prison for causing the death of a young cyclist after ramming into him in Castle Peak last year.

Tsoi Leung-chit, 42, was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.

He pleaded guilty before the District Court yesterday to one count of dangerous driving causing the death of Yuan Wai-ning, 23, on May 7.

The court heard that Yuan, a sports instructor, had donned a helmet shortly before midnight on May 6 as he started out with 10 friends on Castle Peak Road, Tai Lam. The group also switched on the front and rear lights of their bicycles.

Tsoi rammed into the rear of Yuan's bicycle. He told police he had been driving at about 108 kilometres per hour. He has two previous convictions for careless driving and was disqualified from driving in 2001.

Judge Kevin Browne said Tsoi showed remorse by admitting to his actions and had had no intention of causing serious injury to the victim.

However, Browne said he needed to pass a deterrent sentence. 'The speed at which he drove was excessive. This is a minibus and it not only caused danger to road users, but also jeopardised the safety of passengers,' the judge said.

He took a starting point of four years and six months and reduced it by a third because of the guilty plea. The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 10 years.

The prosecution said Tsoi was driving towards Tuen Mun when some of his passengers spotted the cycling group some 100 metres ahead. Tsoi did not slow down or sound his horn at the cyclists.

A passenger shouted a warning to Tsoi when Yuan was about 30 metres away. He began to brake but hit Yuan's bike. The minibus skidded for 77 metres and white smoke emerged.

Yuan was knocked unconscious. He sustained multiple abrasions on his four limbs, face and scalp and was certified dead a day later.

The road had a speed limit of 70km/h. A forensic examination estimated Tsoi was travelling at between 96 to 118 km/h.

Explaining why cyclists use road carriageways, Osman Lee Kit-lun, of the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, said: 'Many drivers do not know cycling on a pavement is against the law.' He added: 'Educating drivers-to-be to respect cyclists, as they have equal rights on the road, should be compulsory before they get their licence.'