Passenger jailed 3 weeks for punching cabby

Passenger jailed 3 weeks for punching cabby

SINGAPORE - A cab passenger who assaulted his driver after being woken up and asked where he wanted to be dropped off was jailed yesterday, in the second such case this week.

Mr Tay Boon Kiang, 50, stopped his taxi and tried repeatedly to wake 25-year-old Ho Wei Long, who eventually stirred and got out of the vehicle, but did not have enough money to pay.

Ho turned aggressive, took off his shirt and swore at the cabby, who decided to forgo the fare. He had to be restrained by a neighbour and his mother, who had arrived at the scene.

But the aircraft cleaner broke free and punched Mr Tay in the face. The cabby was later given two days of medical leave and hospitalised for a night.

Yesterday, a district court sentenced Ho to three weeks in jail for his actions, noting that public transport workers such as Mr Tay need protection.

Ho had pleaded guilty to voluntarily causing hurt to the cabby. One other charge of disorderly behaviour in a public place was taken into consideration.

On Jan 24, he nodded off after boarding Mr Tay's cab and asking to be driven to the airport.

Upon arrival, the cabby tapped and shook him repeatedly to wake him up. Eventually, Ho told Mr Tay to drive him to his home in Sengkang, and then fell asleep again.

In Sengkang, Mr Tay tried to wake Ho up for further instructions on where to stop. He also asked the passenger for his home number so he could ask Ho's family to come get him.

Ho gave him his mother's mobile number, which the cabby tried unsuccessfully to call.

The confrontation started after Ho finally stirred but refused to get out of the vehicle.

Ho is married but separated from his wife, and has a two-year-old son.

Pleading for leniency, Ho's lawyers said he was a first-time offender and was remorseful.

They added that their client had paid Mr Tay $329.20 in compensation.

On Monday, a final-year business student at the Singapore Institute of Management was also sentenced to three weeks in jail, under similar circumstances.

Tan Jian Liang, 24, fell asleep as he was being driven in a taxi to Choa Chu Kang Crescent on Jan 17 - a week before Ho's offence.

Tan turned aggressive when the driver tried to wake him up for more specific directions. He chased the taxi driver, pushed him to the ground, held him down and punched him in the face repeatedly.

The maximum penalty for voluntarily causing hurt is a jail term of two years and a fine of $5,000.

pohian@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 12 in The Straits Times.

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