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Jail, driving ban for policewoman who collided with NTU students after falling asleep at wheel

SINGAPORE — While on duty at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) campus, Norimawati Abdullah briefly dozed off at the wheel of her police vehicle and could not stop at a zebra crossing in time, crashing into two students.

Norimawati Abdullah at the State Courts on April 27, 2022.

Norimawati Abdullah at the State Courts on April 27, 2022.

  • Norimawati Abdullah was at the tail-end of her shift when she dozed off while driving in NTU
  • She collided with two 23-year-old students and left them with serious injuries
  • She has been suspended from duty and stands to lose her job, her lawyer told the court

SINGAPORE — While on duty at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) campus, Norimawati Abdullah briefly dozed off at the wheel of her police vehicle and could not stop at a zebra crossing in time, crashing into two students.

They suffered multiple injuries including fractures and were each given several weeks of hospitalisation leave.

On Wednesday (April 27), Norimawati, who holds the rank of staff sergeant with the Singapore Police Force (SPF), was sentenced to three months’ jail and a five-year driving ban.

Her lawyer said that she has been suspended from duty and stands to lose her job.

The 31-year-old pleaded guilty to causing grievous hurt to the victims, both aged 23, while driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.

The court heard that Norimawati, who had been a ground response force officer at Nanyang Neighbourhood Police Centre for eight years, was driving along Nanyang Avenue on the university campus around 6.20pm on Jan 1 last year.

She was accompanied by her duty partner, who was in the front passenger seat, and another reservist police officer. She had about nine years of driving experience at the time.

That evening, the two victims and another friend were crossing the zebra crossing while carrying umbrellas due to a slight drizzle.

Norimawati then dozed off. When her partner realised she was not slowing down while approaching the crossing, he turned to look at her and saw that her eyes were closed.

Body-worn camera footage, which was played in court, showed him shouting, “Ma’am, ma’am”, to wake her up.

This roused her and she applied the emergency brakes, but she failed to stop in time and collided with the victims “with some force”, flinging one of them towards the kerb. The other victim was flung onto the police car bonnet for a few seconds.

All three police officers then alighted from the car to help them.

During investigations, Norimawati admitted to having five to six hours of disrupted sleep before her shift began at 8am. It was supposed to end at 6.30pm.

She was feeling sleepy before the crash but continued driving despite this, the court heard. Her shift was not a busy one and she did not have a medical condition as well.

Her vehicle was damaged to the tune of about S$1,400.

The victims were taken conscious to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital after the accident.

One, who was diagnosed with a neck fracture and pelvic injury, was given 24 days of hospitalisation leave, while another suffered a pelvic fracture and multiple facial cuts and was given 62 days of hospitalisation leave.

APOLOGISES TO VICTIM, DEPARTMENT

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jingxi asked for three to five months’ jail, while Norimawati’s lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu asked for four to six weeks’ jail instead.

The defence counsel said that she expressed her “unreserved apology” to the victims, her department and the court.

“She has served the department for close to 10 years. Not at any point did she shirk from her responsibilities, and as you observe from the statement of facts, she rendered assistance to victims,” Mr Singh added.

The lawyer also urged District Judge Salina Ishak not to increase her culpability due to the fact that she was a police officer.

He said that Norimawati, who is married with a young child, is well-liked and respected by her colleagues, taking an active role in mentoring and grooming younger officers.

When the judge pronounced the sentence and asked Norimawati if she wanted to start serving her jail time later due to the upcoming Hari Raya Puasa festivities, she declined.

Norimawati could have been jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$5,000, or punished with both.

Those convicted will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for any period the court thinks fit.

In a statement on Friday, the SPF said that police officers are expected to uphold the law and maintain the highest standards of conduct and integrity.

It added that following the accident, it had swiftly initiated investigations against Norimawati.

After she was convicted, internal action was commenced against her, said SPF. 

Related topics

court crime driving ban traffic accident NTU police car police

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