Drunk assaulted cabby after refusing to pay fare

Drunk assaulted cabby after refusing to pay fare
Insurance agent Joachim Gabriel Lai Zhen punched cabby Tan Keon Chae after the latter went after him and asked him to pay his fare. Lai was given a two-week short detention order yesterday.

SINGAPORE - A drunken passenger refused to pay his taxi fare - and then punched the cabby in the face when the latter went after him to get the money.

Insurance agent Joachim Gabriel Lai Zhen, 23, was given a two-week short detention order yesterday for attacking Mr Tan Keon Chae, 55, in Chai Chee Drive on May 19, 2013.

There was a stay of the order, a community-based sentence, pending a prosecution appeal.

Lai, who was 21 at the time of the offence, went through five days of his trial last year before owning up to the assault.

The court heard that he had been drinking at Clarke Quay with friends before hailing Mr Tan's cab to go home at about 3.30am that day.

When Mr Tan got to Chai Chee Drive, he asked for Lai's exact address to no avail.

Lai also refused to pay the fare which came to slightly over $18, and ran away instead.

Mr Tan went after him and repeatedly asked him to pay up, but he still refused.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lim said Mr Tan lightly held on to the left upper arm of Lai's jacket, but Lai shrugged him off.

When Mr Tan asked for the fare again, Lai punched him on the nose and in the back of the head.

The court heard that a drunken Lai continued to be belligerent and shouted obscenities when he and Mr Tan were at Bedok South Neighbourhood Police Centre later.

DPP Lim told the court last month that a five-week sentence was justified based on numerous aggravating factors, the lack of mitigating factors and the benchmark sentence.

Lai, he said, launched a one-sided attack on the taxi driver at night - a time when public transport workers are most vulnerable. He had enough money in his wallet to pay the fare and was simply trying to avoid doing so.

He added: "This court must send a message that the accused's actions of punching the victim twice on the face and head violated the victim's right to work in a safe and secure environment.

"Such actions cannot be tolerated and must be punished with a custodial sentence."

Lai paid $1,500 compensation to the victim yesterday and gave him a letter of apology.

He could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000.

elena@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 04, 2015.
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