Hawker gets jail for hitting taxi driver

SINGAPORE - Taxi driver Ling Ah Yen, 67, was beaten up after he ran over a chihuahua and remarked "it was just a dog".

He was punched twice in the face by the dog owner's friend after getting into a row over the dead pet.

Yesterday, his assailant, hawker Koh Seng Hong, was sentenced to eight months in jail.

The court heard that the cab driver suffered multiple head fractures in the Feb 8 assault.

It happened after he slowed down to allow dog owner Toh Meng Teck, 40, and his girlfriend to cross the street.

The chihuahua, which was not on a leash, ran under his taxi and was later reportedly seen lying on the road with blood coming out of its mouth.

Enraged at the death of his pet, Mr Toh showered the cabby with expletives.

This attracted the attention of his friend, Koh, who had been drinking beer with the couple at a nearby coffee shop.

The 50-year-old rushed over - just in time to hear the "just a dog" comment in Hokkien. Koh, who is married to a 33-year-old sales executive, was so angry that he punched the cabby. He pleaded guilty to voluntarily causing grievous hurt.

Yesterday, defence lawyer S. S. Dhillon said that his client was an animal lover who was provoked by the casual remark.

He added that it was a "spur of the moment" reaction that would never have happened had the driver apologised for running over the pet.

But District Judge Lee Poh Choo found that Koh's reaction "far exceeded the circumstances".

She said that the chihuahua's owner had "contributed to the dog's demise" by failing to keep it on a leash, and agreed that the cabby was not driving recklessly.

"The accused should have taken into account that it is not entirely the driver's fault," she said.

Koh could have been jailed for up to 10 years, and fined or caned.

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