Law don guilty of beating taxi driver while drunk

An assistant law professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS) was convicted yesterday of assaulting a cabby while drunk, leaving him bloodied and needing multiple stitches.

Sundram Peter Soosay, 43, had boarded Mr Sun Chun Hua's taxi in the wee hours on Christmas Day. Intoxicated after a Christmas Eve gathering, he vomited in Mr Sun's cab.

He then alighted near King Albert Park along Clementi Road and walked away without paying his taxi fare.

He handed over a $50 note after the 70-year-old cabby chased after him and threatened to call the police.

Mr Sun returned to his cab to get change. Soosay then struck him from behind, straddled him and punched his face repeatedly.

Mr Sun could not work for 17 days because of his injuries.

Soosay joined NUS in 2008. An NUS spokesman said yesterday Soosay has been suspended without pay, and the university "will now determine what further disciplinary action should be taken".

District Judge Victor Yeo tore down Soosay's testimony that he was attacked by the cabby first and had reacted in self-defence.

"I found it to be riddled with hindsight reasoning, convenient conjecture and hypothesis," he said.

The judge said Soosay's testimony was inconsistent with his first statement to the police. "Despite the accused's intoxicated state, he seemed able to recall with great clarity how Mr Sun had behaved aggressively towards him," he said.

He added that Soosay had made no mention of these details in his first statement to the police, but had said he was so drunk that he could not remember what had actually happened.

He called Soosay's allegations that the investigating officer had "compressed" his first statement "serious and most startling".

The investigating officer had been fully aware that Soosay was a law professor and would not have attempted to summarise his statement, the judge said.

Addressing the defence's suggestion that the cabby had first provoked Soosay by pushing him and throwing a punch, the judge noted that Mr Sun was of a fairly advanced age.

It would have been foolish for him to start a fight with his passenger - who was larger in stature - after he had received money for the taxi fare.

Soosay, a permanent resident in Singapore, will be sentenced on June 26. He could be jailed up to two years, fined up to $5,000, or both.

This article was first published on May 30, 2015.
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