- The 32-year-old victim was thrown clear of the vehicle and suffered fatal injuries when the driver hit an electric metre after a high-speed turn
- Local traffic ordinances prohibit delivery vehicles from carrying passengers ‘for reward’
A Hong Kong driver who worked for a popular mobile delivery app company was sentenced to 16 months in jail after a woman he was illegally carrying as a passenger was killed in a traffic accident last year.
Cheng Wai-lap was also fined HK$2,000 by the District Court on Thursday for carrying the 32-year-old victim in his light goods vehicle without a hired car permit.
The accident took place on the evening of January 4, when Tse Sau-kwan hailed Cheng's vehicle via the GoGoVan mobile app to travel to Ma On Shan from Kowloon Bay.
The Road Traffic Ordinance prohibits carrying passengers for reward inside light goods vehicles. Such passengers are not typically covered by third-party insurance.
GoGoVan confirms one of its vans was involved in fatal crash
But Cheng, who worked part-time for GoGoVan, accepted Tse's request knowing she would not be insured in the event of an accident, the prosecution had said.
When the 29-year-old driver made a left turn from Lung Cheung Road towards Hammer Hill Road in Wong Tai Sin, his vehicle veered off course at high speed and rammed into a concrete electric meter on the roadside, before spinning out and coming to a stop.
The van's passenger-side door was ripped off on impact, throwing Tse to the ground. She sustained grave injuries and was pronounced dead at the hospital half an hour after the crash.
Under caution, Cheng told police he was unfamiliar with the route and had made an abrupt turn at the scene, causing his van to lose control. A subsequent investigation found he was speeding.
Earlier this year, Cheng pleaded guilty to one count each of causing death by dangerous driving, driving for hire or reward without permit and driving without third-party insurance.
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His sentencing was originally scheduled for January 30, but was adjourned to Thursday after most court activities were postponed in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
District Judge Gary Lam Kar-yan said he always felt "very sad" when dealing with cases of this kind, adding the court must remind drivers in its sentencing that driving is "a privilege with great responsibility".
"The duration of the accident had been a few seconds only, but in those few seconds, the deceased lost her life," Lam said.
"The court must send a clear message to the community, that all vehicles can be lethal, and drivers must show responsibility for their acts on the road."
Lam said he considered Cheng a law-abiding person, who had a "slightly below average driving record" but no intention to drive dangerously or irresponsibly.
Apart from the jail sentence and fine, the judge banned Cheng from driving for the next five years.
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