'Cabby abuser' gets retrial as new witnesses step forward

'Cabby abuser' gets retrial as new witnesses step forward
Cabby Chan Chuan Heng (R) punched Arne Corneliussen (L) on the left side of his head, said one of the new witnesses. The Norwegian's lawyer said he pleaded guilty as he was too drunk to remember the fight details and the police had eyewitness accounts that he had attacked Mr Chan.

A NORWEGIAN who has served more than half of his 10-week jail term - after admitting to choking a taxi driver, paying the victim $30,000 and losing his job - has been given a chance to defend himself in a retrial.

This comes after two Singaporean men stepped forward to say that the cabby was actually the aggressor. The High Court heard yesterday how Mr Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood and his friend, Mr Roslan Zainal, witnessed the entire altercation last September in Circular Road.

When Mr Ayub read a newspaper report on the case, he was surprised that Arne Corneliussen, 50, was jailed while cabby Chan Chuan Heng, 46, whom he saw throwing a punch, escaped punishment.

He sought out Corneliussen's lawyer, and he and his friend have since filed affidavits on their account of what happened.

Corneliussen's lawyer, Mr Terence Seah, said his client had pleaded guilty because he was too drunk to remember the details of the fight and the police had eyewitness accounts that he had attacked Mr Chan.

Given the "exceptional turn of events", the prosecution did not object to Corneliussen's conviction and sentence being quashed and the case sent back to the State Courts for a retrial.

However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Kok Weng stressed that this did not mean the earlier conviction was wrong.

The DPP pointed out that the two new witnesses were not at the scene when police arrived and did not come forward during police investigations.

Two passers-by who had pulled Corneliussen away from Mr Chan told police that they saw the Norwegian chasing the cabby and choking him, said the DPP.

But Mr Ayub said he saw Mr Chan punch Corneliussen on the left side of his head, causing the latter to squat down in a daze. When Corneliussen asked the cabby why he had hit him, Mr Chan tried to run away.

After a chase, Corneliussen caught up with Mr Chan and pinned him down before being pulled away.

Mr Roslan did not see the punch but heard a loud smacking sound, after which he saw the cabby, arms akimbo, standing over Corneliussen who was squatting, with his hands covering his face.

Corneliussen, a Singapore permanent resident, lost his job as director of programme management at a courier company and paid the cabby $30,000 in compensation out of goodwill after the incident.

selinal@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 9, 2015.
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