‘He could not forgive himself’: two years’ jail for truck driver who caused five deaths in collision with minibus

Cheung Man-leung, 71, who has been seeking psychological treatment since the crash, apologised to families of the deceased

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2016, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2016, 11:07pm

A truck driver was sentenced to two years’ jail by the District Court on Tuesday after his vehicle slammed into a minibus and killed five passengers in Pat Heung last December.

Cheung Man-leung, 71, was also disqualified from driving for five years and required to attend driving refresher courses in the last three months of his disqualification period, if he were to drive again.

The father of three waved goodbye to family members and friends as he exited the dock for detention.

He had pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving causing death and another of causing grievous bodily harm.

He acknowledged his reckless driving, while offering his deepest apologies to the injured and the families and friends of the deceased. The court heard that he never applied for bail because he could not forgive himself.

Cheung had a clear driving record in his 42 years behind the wheel, running his own business as a self-employed driver.

He was issued only five tickets, but these included two for failing to comply with traffic signals as recent as last year.

Sentencing reports suggested he needed extra time for cognitive tasks and did not have good hand-eye coordination. But defending counsel Tony Li noted that the extent of deterioration of Cheung’s reflexes was unclear.

“He felt that he was ageing,” Li said. “But he was able to drive.”

Deputy magistrate Bina Chainrai said the main aggravating factor in this case was the outcome of Cheung’s driving as he drove into a busy intersection when the light was still red.

“Road accidents can cause immense suffering. Vehicles can be lethal if not driven and maintained in an appropriate manner,” she said.

But she accepted the accident was a tragedy also to Cheung, who had since been receiving psychological treatment, and said he would not drive again. She also noted his risk of reoffending was low.

The fatal crash took place at the junction of Kam Sheung Road and Tung Wui Road on December 18, when Cheung’s truck ran a red light and slammed into the right side of a minibus, causing the other vehicle to skid and topple over on its left side.

He later told police that he saw the traffic light had turned green when he drove into the junction at 10 to 20km/h. The minibus was travelling at 64km/h in a 50km/h zone.

Four of its passengers – aged between three months and 58 – died at the scene. A fifth died a few days later from serious injuries.

Another 12 passengers and the driver were also injured. Some are still receiving medical treatment.

Dangerous driving causing death is punishable by ten years’ imprisonment and a HK$50,000 fine plus disqualification from driving for five years.