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Japanese employee, who crashed company car into bus stop, cites work culture in mitigation plea

SINGAPORE — As the most junior employee at a Japanese company, Takata Kohei took it upon himself to drive the company car to drop off a more senior colleague, even though he was not feeling well that day.

The 28-year-old was fined $7,000 and banned from driving for two years after he crashed into a bus stop, injuring his wife and son, as well as a pedestrian.

The 28-year-old was fined $7,000 and banned from driving for two years after he crashed into a bus stop, injuring his wife and son, as well as a pedestrian.

SINGAPORE — As the most junior employee at a Japanese company, a 28-year-old took it upon himself to drive the company car to drop off a more senior colleague, even though he was not feeling well that day.

This Japanese cultural norm in his work environment was pitched as a mitigating factor for why he fell asleep at the wheel and ploughed into a bus stop along Kampong Bahru Road three months ago.

The injuries caused by the driver to his wife, son and a pedestrian drew him charges of causing hurt by a negligent act which he pleaded guilty to on Friday (Dec 6). 

District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim sentenced him to a S$5,000 fine for causing grievous hurt to his son and another S$2,000 in fines for causing hurt to the pedestrian, Mr Tennakoon Mudiyanselage Hasitha Presad. He was also banned from driving for two years and will have to serve 30 days’ jail if he does not pay the fine.

The name of the company the driver was working for at that time was not stated in court documents and the names of the accused and his wife have also been withheld to protect the identity of their child under the Children and Young Persons Act. 

His lawyer, Mr Christian Teo, told the court that he had “agreed to drive, though reluctantly” on the night of Sept 7, 2019, dropping off a colleague before he nodded off at 11.45pm while driving his 28-year-old wife and one-year-old son home. 

His son, who was 10 months old at that time, was the most seriously injured of all parties involved. He fractured his skull and was hospitalised at the National University Hospital for more than a day.

His wife suffered superficial injuries – redness to her forehead and left eye, and pain in her left knee.

Mr Tennakoon, a 37-year-old Sri Lankan national who was standing at the bus stop, sustained abrasions on his limbs and had back pain. 

He was taken to the Singapore General Hospital and was discharged the next day with 28 days of hospitalisation leave.

The accident resulted in government property being damaged, the court also heard.

A walkway shelter pillar, two guard portions of railing, a bus service information board, a signboard, a concave mirror and a signage pole were all uprooted in the crash.

The car came to a halt in the vegetation behind the bus service information board.

Related topics

court crime dangerous driving

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