Wednesday, 23 Sep 2020

9 weeks' jail for ex-cab driver who led police on car chase to help passengers with contraband cigarettes escape

SINGAPORE – A man, despite being told by two men in his taxi that they were carrying bags of contraband cigarettes, led pursuing auxiliary police officers on a car chase which ended with the passengers escaping.

For his actions in 2018, Na Hock Kee, 61, was on Friday (June 19) jailed for nine weeks and disqualified from holding or obtaining all classes of driving licences for six months after his release from prison.

He pleaded guilty to one charge each of obstructing the course of justice, doing a rash act endangering human life and carrying duty-unpaid cigarettes.

One other charge under the Customs Act and two charges under the Road Traffic Act were taken into consideration during sentencing by District Judge Ronald Gwee.

Court documents state that Na was working as a relief taxi driver for SMRT Corporation at the time of his offences.

On the evening of Feb 6, 2018, he picked up a Bangladeshi national in his taxi.

The man loaded plastic bags containing duty-unpaid cigarettes into the taxi and directed Na to a shipyard near Tuas South Boulevard.

When they arrived at the shipyard at 8.40pm, two other men, who are believed to be Bangladeshis, started unloading the plastic bags from the taxi. All three men were not identified in court documents.

When four Certis auxiliary police officers patrolling the area approached the taxi, one of the men outside the car ran into the forest nearby.

The officers became suspicious and moved to check the vehicle.

The other man outside the taxi then joined his companion in the car. Both men shouted at Na to drive off, saying that the police were coming after them and that the plastic bags contained duty-unpaid cigarettes.

After Na complied, the officers gave chase in their vehicle.

When both parties reached a roundabout in Tuas South Drive, the officers parked their vehicle against the flow of traffic to block the taxi’s exit. Three of the officers then got out and signalled for Na to stop his car.

Na attempted to escape by speeding through the gap between the three officers and their vehicle. He drove very close to one of them, causing the officer to dash out of the taxi’s path to avoid being hit.

Na eventually drove his taxi into a construction site off Tuas South Avenue 12, where his vehicle got stuck. The two passengers then fled from the car.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Yong Ngee said Na shouted at them to take their items along with them as he did not want the authorities to find contraband items in his vehicle.

He was eventually nabbed by the officers.

Na’s car was later searched and found to have 34 cartons and 10 packets of contraband cigarettes.

A plastic bag that Na threw away after he was caught was found to contain 15 cartons of contraband cigarettes.

DPP Goh said the amount of duty and goods and services tax unpaid were $3,880 and $285.67 respectively.

The court heard that the other three men involved are still at large.

For obstructing the course of justice, Na could have been jailed for seven years and fined.

He could also have been jailed for up to six months and fined up to $2,500 for causing a rash act endangering human life.

For carrying contraband cigarettes amounting to $3,880 in unpaid duty, Na could have been jailed for up to three years and fined between $58,200 and $77,600.

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