SINGAPORE: The son of a driver who inched a Bentley forward into a security guard outside Red Swastika School was fined by a court on Thursday (Feb 23) for related offences.
Glynn Neo Jia, 29, was fined S$2,600 and banned from driving for 12 months after pleading guilty to two charges.
The charges were for altering the front and rear licence plates of the Bentley and for allowing his father Neo Hong Chye to use the vehicle without insurance coverage.
The Bentley belonged to Glynn’s motor trade business, and the plates were changed for the purposes of a photoshoot in relation to the car business.
On the morning of Jan 11 last year, Hong Chye drove his granddaughter to Red Swastika School with his wife in the passenger seat and the girl in the back.
He attempted to bypass the queue of cars by turning left into the exit lane of the school, but was stopped by security guard Neo Ah Whatt, who stood in front of the car.
In the ensuing interaction with the security guard, Hong Chye inched his Bentley forward into the 62-year-old, leaving him with a bruise on his knee.
Hong Chye was given eight weeks’ jail, fined S$600 and banned from driving for 12 months in October. This was for causing hurt through a rash act and driving without insurance.
The incident was caught on video and went viral.
Glynn’s lawyer, Ms Ng Kai Ling from Limn Law Corporation, explained in her mitigation plea that her client and his brothers have been helping with their father’s businesses.
The businesses specialise in civil engineering work or environment solutions for the construction industry.
The family ventured into the car dealership business in 2020 under the business Neo Times, and decided that Glynn was old enough to helm the car dealership.
A small area in a factory used by the family was cleared so it could function as a showroom to display the cars for sale.
The Bentley used in the incident at the school belonged to the company and was one of the cars displayed at the showroom.
Ms Ng explained that it is industry knowledge that vehicle registration numbers comprising auspicious numbers or lesser numbers such as single-digit or double-digit numbers are more desirable to car owners.
As the industry was facing a slump in sales, Hong Chye wanted to help his son sell the cars.
Three days before the incident at the school, Glynn carried out a photoshoot for some of the company’s cars on sale, including the Bentley.
He intended to photograph the car with the vehicle registration number SMP19J, which Hong Chye had from a previous vehicle.
After taking a photo of the Bentley with its original car plates, Glynn changed its plates to the SMP19J ones.
Before the Bentley could be photographed with these plates, Glynn had to attend to other work such as unloading construction materials.
The SMP19J plates were left on the car so that the photoshoot could be continued at the next available opportunity, said Ms Ng.
HOW HONG CHYE CAME TO USE THE CAR
According to her, Hong Chye wanted to drive his granddaughter to school on the morning of the incident.
The family owned a number of cars for their personal use and placed all car keys in a tray next to the main door of their home.
Whenever a family member needed to drive, they would take a car key from the tray and head to the car park behind their home to locate the vehicle.
Ms Ng said that Hong Chye simply grabbed a car key from the tray that morning and saw that the key was for the Bentley when he reached the car park.
As he was in a rush, he drove the car without second thoughts.
As for how the Bentley wound up in the car park in the first place, Glynn’s “calculated guess” was that a worker for the businesses had driven it there because he recognised the plate as belonging to Hong Chye.
The company’s display cars were left unlocked, with keys on the dashboard to facilitate test drives for potential buyers.
It was also a usual practice for the family business’ employees to help drive the family’s cars back to their home, said the lawyer.
After the school incident, Glynn realised that the company’s practices increased the risk of possible misuse of showroom cars.
He now keeps all showroom car keys in a key box located inside a locked room at the factory showroom, which only authorised people can access.
Ms Ng urged the court to give Glynn credit for his early plea of guilt, and the steps he has taken to prevent a repeat of the incident that resulted in a showroom car being driven without a valid insurance policy.
The penalties for altering licence plates are a jail term of up to 12 months, a fine of up to S$5,000, or both.
For allowing another person to use his or her vehicle without insurance coverage, a driver can be jailed for up to three months, fined up to S$1,000, or both, and can also be banned from driving for 12 months.