State Courts apologises to man after he spends two more days in prison due to administrative error

SINGAPORE – The State Courts has apologised to a lorry driver after an administrative error caused him to remain in jail for two extra days.

Mr Teo Seng Tiong, 59, was sentenced on Jan 14 to seven weeks’ jail and a fine of $500 for swerving his lorry into a cyclist and failing to make a police report within 24 hours of the accident.

The State Courts said in a statement on Wednesday (Sept 2), that Teo’s appeal was dismissed by the High Court in July and Teo paid the fine and began serving his jail term on July 20.

Despite the High Court notifying the State Courts that the fine had been paid, the State Courts officer in charge of the case failed to update the State Courts’ case management system to reflect it.

On Aug 21 and 22, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) checked with the State Courts on whether the fine had been paid, and owing to the earlier error, the State Courts informed SPS that the fine had not been paid.

As a result, Mr Teo ended up staying longer in jail than he should have. During sentencing, he was told if he was unable to pay the fine, he would have to serve another three days behind bars.

“The State Courts deeply regret what has happened, and we have conveyed our letter of apology to Mr Teo through the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“When the error was discovered, the State Courts took immediate steps to review our work processes governing fines for State Courts cases that have gone on appeal to the High Court,” State Courts said in the statement.

It added that it has since implemented further safeguards, such as additional levels of checks, as well as commenced an internal review of the matter.

“Depending on the outcome of the review, appropriate action (including disciplinary action) will be taken.”

The error was only discovered when Mr Teo’s lawyer, Mr Tan Hee Joek, sent a receipt of the payment for the fine to SPS.

Mr Teo was released on Aug 24 morning.

The Straits Times has contacted Mr Tan for comments from his client.

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