Malaysia court frees Sam Ke Ting who crashed into 8 teens racing on modified bikes in 2017
PUTRAJAYA - The Malaysian Court of Appeal has acquitted a woman of a reckless driving charge linked to a crash that killed eight teenagers riding modified bicycles in Johor six years ago.
In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel chaired by Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail allowed Ms Sam Ke Ting’s appeal to quash her guilty verdict by the High Court, on grounds that the charge was defective.
“In this case, the charge was incorrect, it was defective. The conviction was also incorrect. On these grounds alone, the appeal is allowed,” Justice Hadhariah said on Tuesday.
The other judges on the panel were Justice Hashim Hamzah and Justice Azman Abdullah.
Justice Hadhariah said a guilty verdict could only follow the finding of fault of the driver.
“That is how the law stands. You cannot simply say that because it is a fatal accident, the driver must have been liable. That is not what the law says,” she said.
Justice Hadhariah then set aside the High Court’s decision and acquitted and discharged Ms Sam.
“You are now a free person,” she said.
The court also ordered for Ms Sam’s RM10,000 (S$3,030) bail money to be returned to her.
Ms Sam is largely seen as a victim of circumstance in Malaysia after crashing into a group of dozens of teenagers racing illegal bicycles – which had been modified by having their brakes and lights removed and handlebars lowered – on a poorly lit road at 3.20am on Feb 18, 2017.
The eight who died were aged between 13 and 16.
Ms Sam was charged with reckless driving and causing deaths, and was previously acquitted twice – by the Magistrates’ Court in 2019 and 2021.
In her lower court trial, it was determined that she had not been driving under the influence of alcohol, was alert at the wheel, and was possibly driving below the speed limit at the time of the crash.
But a second appeal by the prosecution took her to the High Court, where on April 13, 2022, a Johor Bahru High Court judge allowed the prosecution’s appeal and convicted Ms Sam of driving recklessly and sentenced her to six years in jail and a RM6,000 fine.
Her conviction drew widespread criticism from Malaysians, who said it sent the wrong message that racing illegal bicycles on public roads was now being seen as acceptable by law.
Ms Sam obtained leave from the Court of Appeal on April 18, 2022, to appeal against her conviction and jail sentence.
On Tuesday, she said that although she is now a free woman, it did not mean her nightmare was over. The 28-year-old clerk said she is still haunted by the incident that claimed the lives of eight teenagers.
When met by the Malaysian press, Ms Sam addressed the families of the dead teenagers to apologise and mentioned their names one by one.
“I admit that I was the one driving and caused the demise of your beloved children. However, I did not intend for the accident to happen,” she said.
Wearing a black blouse with light grey trousers, Ms Sam said that she had thought of how the boys’ lives would have been alongside their families through all six years of her legal battle.
“But what I say here may not be enough to bring peace to your lives, which I believe is struggling with feelings you should not have felt.
“My words may not bring them back to you, but I would like to say that I, too, carry the burden of this tragedy. I sincerely apologise, although I realise and understand it may be hard for you to forgive me,” she said.
Cue. (2023l, April 12). Malaysia court frees Sam Ke Ting who crashed into 8 teens racing on modified bikes in 2017. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysia-s-court-of-appeal-frees-driver-in-crash-that-killed-8-teen-cyclists