A senior expatriate banker who rammed his Ferrari into a security guard in a fatal accident last year was yesterday jailed for 21 months and suspended from driving for five years after his claims of mechanical failure were rejected.
The District Court found Robert Ebert, Deutsche Bank’s former head of equities for Asia Pacific, guilty of dangerous driving causing death after his black Ferrari 458 Spider hit Ku Lap-chi, 53, on June 9 last year at the Waterfront car park in Kowloon Station.
The offence was punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment.
Judge Amanda Woodcock stressed it was a difficult sentence to pass as Ebert was not a criminal, but the crash had caused death and great deal of distress.
|The crash in June last year killed a security guard working at a Kowloon Station car park. Photo: SCMP Pictures|
Mitigation letters presented the 32-year driver as an upstanding, honest, and charitable man who showed deep remorse.
But the judge said the sentence was aggravated by his excessive speed as he had switched his car to race mode and lost control.
Ebert was heading to his office at the International Commerce Centre on the day of the accident when his Ferrari sped more than three times the legal limit before hitting a curb as he was about to make a turn.
Robert Ebert’s wife attended the hearing on Monday. Photo: David Wong
A driver said he saw the car flying into the car park, hitting the railing, splitting water barriers and running into Ku, who died hours later.
Ebert did not deny he was speeding but he blamed the accident on “a catastrophic failure of the brakes”.
Prosecutors, however, argued the Ferrari showed no sign of braking problems in its journey from Ebert’s home on The Peak. Their experts concluded that the brakes were not faulty.
Woodcock, who noted the car did slow down, said there was no evidence to support that the accident was the very rare situation where there was intermittent braking failures before, but not after, the car made its first impact.
She further pointed out that on Ebert’s own admission, supported by CCTV footage, he was intentionally speeding down the tunnel-like road for a thrill.
She said: “I am sure the defendant did drive dangerously.”
Additional reporting by Jasmine Siu