Spooked cabbie jailed for 20 months over death

Driver's 'complete negligence' while listening to the radio led to crash in which a passenger died

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 February, 2013, 5:00am

A taxi driver with a long record of dangerous driving was sentenced to 20 months in jail yesterday, after he let a ghost story on the radio distract him enough to crash his cab, killing a passenger.

Chui Hon-kwong, 63, also had his driving licence revoked for six years for causing death by dangerous driving.

Chui told police earlier that he thought he had seen ghosts while listening to a horror programme, as he drove a young couple on the Kwun Tong Bypass at about 3am on April 16 last year.

District Court Judge Eddie Yip Chor-man said the horror programme had distracted Chui from his driving.

"There is nothing much to criticise if a taxi driver listens to a radio programme. But the defendant still listened [to ghost stories] even though he felt scared. Suspicion gives rise to bogeymen [in the mind]," he said, citing a Chinese saying.

The court heard that, in his distracted state of mind, Chui heard sniggering coming from the back seat. In the rear-view mirror he could see only "two tufts of hair", so he swivelled around to take a look.

He discovered the young couple had slumped low on the seat.

As he turned back to the front, he saw a truck had stalled on the road ahead, but there was no time to evade it. The cab hit the truck, killing the male passenger, 24, and injuring his girlfriend, 18.

Chui should have noticed the truck driver waving 273 metres ahead of him, giving him eight seconds to react, the court heard.

Yip criticised Chui for his "complete negligence" of the road situation ahead.

"He heard the sniggering," the judge said. "He ignored the fact that he was driving at a speed of 70km/h and used at least eight seconds to inspect something unrelated to the traffic situation."

The court heard that Chui had at least nine previous traffic offences, including careless driving and speeding.

Yip said he considered the defendant's poor driving record, persistently deplorable driving habits and the fact that he was tuning in to the radio in passing sentence. The judge sentenced Chui to 30 months' jail and reduced it by one-third because of his guilty plea.

Family members of the deceased man were saddened by the sentence, with one of them saying it was too lenient.