Singapore: An Indian-origin Briton, who walked across the track during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, was today sentenced to six weeks' jail for committing a "rash act" that endangered the lives of drivers, who were whizzing past at 280kmph.
Yogvitam Pravin Dhokia, 27, pleaded guilty to committing a rash act to endanger the personal safety of F1 drivers in the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 20. District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt backdated his sentence to October 16.
A second charge of criminal trespass by entering the race track along Esplanade Drive part of the track with the intent to cause annoyance was considered during his sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Marshall Lim said one hour into the race, Dhokia decided to breach the perimeter fence and gain access to the race track. He did this to take a video of the race cars as they sped past.
Start of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore on September 20, 2015. Photo: AFP
The section of the track on Esplanade Drive between Turn 13 and Turn 14 is a relatively long and straight stretch which is designed for race cars to accelerate and maintain a high speed to facilitate overtaking when they enter Turn 14.
Dhokia knew that it was dangerous to cross the track when the race was in progress because the cars were travelling at a high speed, said Lim.
When Dhokia noticed that the race cars were fast approaching him, he picked up his pace and jogged across the road just as the cars raced past him at speeds approaching 280kmph.
The court heard that three marshals blew their whistles and called out to him to get off the track but he ignored them. He finally exited the track via the escape cage and was pulled to safety by two of the marshals. A blood sample taken from him was found to contain an anti-malaria medication.
Lim had sought eight to 12 weeks' jail to send a strong deterrent signal to forewarn any like-minded individuals against trying another intrusion in further editions of the race, according to the Singapore daily report.
Defense Lawyer Shashi Nathan countered that six weeks would suffice. He said that this was his client's first overseas trip. Nathan said the avid F1 fan impulsively walked through the opening to get a better view of the race cars due to a lapse of judgment and the combined effects of the medicines.
Dhokia, who looked contrite, spent 11 days in remand after he was charged. He later came out on a personal bond after his parents arrived here from Britain. He could have been jailed for up to six months and fined up to SGD2,000 for committing a rash act.