“How far will a father go to protect his daughter?”
Well, ordinarily, a father acting selflessly to take the place of his daughter would be applauded. It is what one would expect of paternal protection. Yet, this does not apply to all situations. It still depends on context.
In a recent case reported, David, a 56-year-old father, did just that, but with a moral catch: he “took the rap for his daughter after a traffic accident and was jailed for five days.”
“He had falsely admitted he was driving the car they were in when it collided with a motorcyclist.”
At that time, the car was executing a u-turn in a dangerous manner, causing the oncoming motorcyclist to collide into his car. The motorcyclist suffered serious injuries.
David was later sentenced and served a 5-day prison term. He was also banned for 2 years from driving. That was the price he paid for taking his daughter’s place. That was in 2020, and his daughter, Audrey, avoided jail time.
It would all have been swept under the rug if not for a casual viewing of the video footage by the victim’s lawyer. The victim came to my firm, Hoh Law Corporation, to claim for compensation. My firm watched and analysed the footage.
We watched that video footage several times. It was supposed to be a routine viewing. It was a straightforward case, of a motorcyclist riding straight and a car making a careless u-turn. But, we noted something was amiss. The audio recording just didn’t add up. Or in this case, there was an uneasy mismatch.
In the audio recording play-back, David tried his level best to calm Audrey down, repeatedly telling her not to “kanchiong” (meaning “anxious”). And within seconds, he told her resolutely to come down and he will take her place. That seems like a snap decision.
While we don’t know whether that was a father’s instinct kicking in, that decision had unfortunately crossed the criminal threshold. Alas, David went through the rigors of the legal proceedings, being charged for an act of causing grievous hurt, and subsequently, served his prison term in full.
I can’t deny that there were moments I caught myself feeling a father’s pride for what David had done. It was a case of a dad protecting his girl. However, it was a sacrifice that was not only morally wrong, it was an offence too.
Ironically, the conspiracy compounded the offence. It perpetuated the wrongs, and the exposé of it in the papers is a classic example of the returning boomerang of justice, wherein the same act, if were done in a wholly different context, would have been deeply admirable, if not morally exemplary.
In any case, I sensed an ethical obligation arising from what I’d seen and heard, especially the latter. In this peculiar case, actions didn’t speak louder than words. The voice recording between the father and daughter was glaring of their guilt. It was the smoking gun. And both David and Audrey, when confronted with it, have “admitted to the police that (Audrey) was driving the car when the accident occurred.”
That led to the quashing of the conviction of the father who took in his daughter’s place. Now, we dread to imagine the road ahead for them.
One offence uncovered has mutated into many. We can think of abetment, re-charging the right party, re-sentencing, obstruction of justice, and a criminal coverup. Indeed, the price of truth may be high. But lies uncovered is painfully exorbitant.
Acting for the victim in a civil suit, we knew this cannot be perpetuated. What was audio evidence of a lie had consequences for all parties.
For the civil claim, my firm had to decide on the right party to sue - David or Audrey. For the police system, it was a loophole in the chain of investigation. For the justice system as a whole, an innocent man, at least for the act causing grievous hurt, was jailed.
And for the father and daughter, justice was muted so as to protect the driver. That left a gap in the course of justice. And in the words of the DPP: “The correct persons must be punished for the correct offences.”
Indeed, this is more than just fitting the punishment to the crime. It is fitting the right person to the punishment. And this web of conspiratorial silence has sabotaged this fitting or matching process.
My firm, Hoh Law Corporation, did what was expected as an officer of the court as well as to our client. We called the investigating officer and wrote a letter to highlight the glaring oversight.
So, going back to what David had done, it was an act to shield a loved one from personal accountability. It was a father’s offer of protection that has frayed into many consequences.
And admittedly, it is a most unfortunate case of paternal protection that was based on the wrong conviction.
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