Criminal Law

Public Prosecutor’s Appeal allowed to enhance sentencing against School Teacher

Date: 26 December 2018; Type: Legal News; Source: Borneo Bulletin Online

The Public Prosecutor’s application in the High Court was allowed for enhancement of sentence passed against a school teacher who caused her car to suddenly reverse and collide into two young school girls, resulting in their deaths, at the car park of a primary school in the capital which took place on September 6, 2011.

The High Court granted the Public Prosecutor’s appeal and quashed the initial sentence passed by the Magistrate’s Court of BND3,000 or serve six weeks’ imprisonment in default of payment against Hajah Rusni binti Haji Yusof, and substituted it to an order for her to pay a fine of BND10,000 or serve 10 months’ jail in default of payment.

In granting the prosecution’s appeal, Chief Justice Dato Paduka Steven Chong stated that the central question is whether the initial fine of BND3,000 was unduly lenient, and ruled that it was.

“Notwithstanding the inordinate delay of over five years in the prosecution, I think the fine imposed by the Magistrate’s Court is manifestly inadequate. Of course, no sentence will assuage the anguish of the family members of the victims. No parents can ever ‘get over’ the loss of a child,” the Chief Justice said.

The High Court also rejected the defendant’s appeal against conviction.

The Chief Justice rejected the defence’s argument that it was a case of careless driving and not dangerous driving, stating that “the defendant in leaving the car with the engine running with the handbrake pulled up and in reverse gear when she got to check the parking position of the car, and then returning to the car and putting her foot on the accelerator causing it to reverse suddenly, during a school recess when students would be outside the classrooms, definitely created a dangerous situation”.

The Chief Justice added, “In creating that dangerous situation, the defendant was undoubtedly at fault in departing from the standard of a competent and experienced driver.

“A competent and experienced driver exercising care and skills having regards to the existing circumstances, would not have driven in such a dangerous manner.”

The Chief Justice also upheld the initial Magistrate’s Court’s decision for the defendant to be disqualified for life from driving any motor vehicle.

The High Court held that no special reasons existed and rejected the defence’s argument suggesting the fact that the accident occurred in a school car park and not a public road was a special reason to not order disqualification.

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