Couple sentenced to 240 hours community service after crashing vehicle into UK women and lying about driver

Defence counsel insists the pair came clean to authorities before the court case was heard

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 5:45pm

A young couple who lost control of their Mercedes Benz and lied about who was driving when the car struck two British women in Central last September was slapped with the maximum term of community service on Friday.

Terence Chong, 32, and his girlfriend of six years Wong Cheuk-yin, 30, both cried as they were spared jail by deputy district judge Ko Wai-hung.

District Court previously heard that Wong’s vision was obscured by a yellow hydrant and the dizzying headlights of another car as she turned into Aberdeen Street, causing the vehicle to crash into a curb.

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She panicked and lost control of the vehicle, which then accelerated down the steep slope. Chong tried to steer the car to the other side of the road to stop it, but failed. The vehicle eventually struck Rebecca Pawsey and Karen Thomas, who were standing outside PMQ. Both women fell to the ground, with Thomas losing consciousness.

Rather than locking up two extremely remorseful individuals, why not allow them to serve our society?
Defence counsel Wong Man-kit SC

Thomas is still recovering in the UK from injuries sustained in the accident.

Eye-witnesses reported seeing Chong exit the car from the front passenger seat and Wong from the driver’s seat. But Wong told police at the scene that she was the passenger while Chong claimed he was the driver.

The judge said both victims suffered extensive injuries as a result of Wong’s careless driving and it was obvious that she did not know how to handle spontaneous events on the road as a careful and attentive driver should.

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Both defendants knew they committed a grave mistake, he said, and they swapped places as the driver out of panic.

Defence counsel Wong Man-kit SC argued the case was different to others because the decision to swap was spontaneous with no monetary interests involved, and Chong thought he could protect his girlfriend by doing so.

He repeatedly stressed that the driver’s correct identity had been clarified with investigators before the case was heard in court.

“Rather than locking up two extremely remorseful individuals, why not allow them to serve our society?” Wong asked during mitigation.

Ko said perverting the course of justice was a serious offence that courts would not allow.

“But this case has unusual circumstances that permit a non-custodial sentence,” he continued.

He sentenced Wong to 240 hours of community service for one count of careless driving, and another 240 hours to both defendants for one joint charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice – all to be run concurrently. The pair pleaded guilty to all charges and neither had any prior driving related convictions or penalties.

Prior to sentencing, they were remanded for 11 days, which Wong said was already a “short, sharp shock” that would deter his clients from reoffending again.