Hong Kong courts

Manslaughter charges for Hong Kong KMB bus driver in crash that killed 19 passengers

Prosecutors accuse Chan Ho-ming of gross negligence and bring 19 counts of manslaughter and 18 of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 7:34am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 7:33am

The driver behind the wheel of a Hong Kong double-decker bus that crashed in February leaving 19 people dead was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday.

Prosecutors accused Chan Ho-ming, 30, of unlawfully killing the passengers with gross negligence by breaching a duty of care he owed them as the driver of a public bus.

The fatal traffic accident took place in Tai Po on February 10 as Chan was driving a Kowloon Motor Bus from Sha Tin Racecourse bus terminal to Tai Po Central. Sixty passengers suffered injuries.

Chan, who declared his occupation as a cook, was initially charged with one count of dangerous driving causing death. But following further investigation and legal advice, prosecutors returned to court on Wednesday with fresh allegations involving 19 counts of manslaughter and 18 of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm, which replaced the original charge.

Fanling Court heard accusations that Chan had been driving at an excessive and increasing speed on the downhill carriageway of Tai Po Road as the bus approached a right-hand bend before a bus stop at Tai Po Mei Tsuen.

It was further alleged that Chan failed to slow down and apply sufficient use of the footbrake or engine brake when negotiating the bend, which resulted in the bus toppling over and hitting two lamp posts and the bus stop.

Prosecutors said negligence was a substantial cause of the 19 deaths.

They also accused Chan of causing grievous bodily harm to 18 other passengers by driving the bus dangerously.

The two offences of dangerous driving causing death and grievous bodily harm are both punishable by a HK$50,000 (US$6,380) fine, with the former carrying a higher maximum jail term, at 10 years, and the latter capped at seven.

Manslaughter is punishable by life imprisonment.

Chan indicated that he understood the charges. But he was not required to enter his plea on the 37 counts.

Acting principal magistrate Don So Man-lung transferred the case to Eastern Court for committal proceedings to bring the case to the High Court, where Chan is expected to be tried by a jury.

His next court appearance is scheduled for November 19. In the meantime, Chan will be remanded in custody.