SALES promoter Sam Ke Ting, 27 should urgently file an application for leave to appeal against the Johor Bahru High Court to the Court of Appeal since she had been acquitted twice previously by the learned Magistrate.
According to DAP National Legal Bureau chairman Ramkarpal Singh, there are valid grounds for Sam to appeal for her six-year jail term and RM6,000 fine in default six month’s imprisonment sentence given there are doubts as to whether she committed the offence that she was charged with.
“Whether or not the learned High Court judge had committed any error justifying leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal remains to be seen (and can only be ascertained) after a careful study of his grounds of judgment,” the Bukit Gelugor MP pointed out in a media statement.
Ramkarpal was commenting on the High Court’s decision to allow the prosecution’s appeal against the acquittal of Sam who was charged with reckless driving that caused the death of eight teenagers in 2017 and that the case cannot be taken further to the Court of Appeal unless Sam obtains leave to appeal first.
The “basikal lajak” (modified bicycles) cyclists aged between 13 and 16 were killed at Jalan Lingkaran Dalam, Johor Bahru at 3:20am on Feb 18, 2017.
“I note that the learned Magistrate had acquitted Sam twice in the lower court, first at the end of the prosecution’s case and again at the end of the defence case. I further believe that the learned Magistrate made various findings of fact resulting in Sam’s said acquittals which are normally not interfered with on appeal unless found to be perverse,” opined Ramkarpal.
“Although the High Court has the power to reverse the findings of the Magistrate, this is normally not done as appellate courts are usually slow to disturb the findings of fact of a lower court.”
Ramkarpal said he further viewed that Sam can apply for a stay of execution of her sentence in the event leave is allowed by the Court of Appeal and be released on bail pending her said appeal.
“Every effort should be made to appeal the said High Court decision to the Court of Appeal immediately, particularly in light of the fact that Sam had previously been found not guilty of the offence she was charged with,” he added.
The DAP National Legal Bureau is prepared to provide legal assistance to Sam and her legal team in the filing and hearing of the said application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, lawyer and social activist Siti Kasim opined that the High Court should take into account reduction in sentence for assistance to prosecution and any other rule of law by virtue of which an offender may receive a discounted sentence in consequence of assistance given (or offered) to the prosecutor or investigator.
“Deaths did occur. Although, I feel she (Sam) should be penalised, I also feel the custodial sentence were too harsh. Jail should be the last resort,” she said in a Facebook posting.
“Judges should give reasons when they hand down a sentence so the public can understand it better.”
Siti Kasim added: “I am not sure whether we have a Sentencing Code or Guidelines which would help judges to decide on the appropriate sentence to reflect the crime committed and proportionate to the seriousness of the offence. I read somewhere that the Bar Council was working on this years ago.” – April 13, 2022