COURTS

Lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung blames 'stranger' in dangerous-driving trial

Jeffrey Lam tells court he drove down wrong side of road after mystery person misled him

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 January, 2014, 4:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 9:13am

A mysterious "person in a raincoat" was to blame for lawmaker and executive councillor Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung driving down the wrong side of the road last July, a court heard.

Lam, 61, told Kwun Tong Court yesterday that he had driven into southbound Wang Chiu Road as he was on his way to a music festival in Kai Tak, after the person motioned for him to stick to a right-hand lane.

Lam was speaking at his first trial since the prosecution raised the initial reckless-driving charge to the more serious charge of dangerous driving in November.

Acting Principal Magistrate Don So Man-lung yesterday ruled there was a case for Lam to answer on the charge of dangerous driving.

"A person in a hooded raincoat raised his left arm … I thought he was giving me directions to stick to the lane on the far right," he said. "I knew there were special arrangements for the festival and I thought the person was giving me directions."

Five police officers were called on by the prosecution to testify against the politician and National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member.

The alleged offence occurred at the junction of Wang Chiu Road and Cheung Yip Street in Kowloon Bay as Lam made his way to the cut-price Dome Festival on July 1.

After travelling 15 to 17 metres down the wrong side of the road, he ran a red light and narrowly avoided colliding with a car he was following as they both veered right and into Cheung Yip Street.

Police sergeant Lo Kwok-fai, who was on crowd-control duty at the junction that afternoon, said Lam's car, a black Mercedes-Benz sedan, ran the light at about 50 to 60km/h. Lam argued that he had been travelling at just 20 to 30km/h as it was dark, rainy and he was unfamiliar with the area.

He said he had had a "slight suspicion he was on the wrong road" when he saw two no-entry road signs opposite him, but he still made the turn. "I had to make a judgment … If I was going the wrong way, I felt the safest was to follow the other car and go right."

Lam's counsel, Juliana Chow Hoi-ling, questioned whether police had bungled preliminary investigations as the officer taking Lam's statement told him they were only looking into complaints of reckless driving.

The officer, a witness, said he did not ask whether Lam knew he had been driving the wrong way, but that Lam told them that voluntarily. The hearing continues next Wednesday. Lam has requested absence from the trial.

A dangerous driving conviction carries a maximum of a HK$25,000 fine and up to three years' jail.