Man punches another in the face after they bump into each other

For mattress salesman Lawrence Teow Peng Law, a bump along a store's narrow corridor was not something he could take lying down.

When he and Mr Cheo Boon Choon knocked into each other at the Harvey Norman Millenia Walk store on Jan 7, 2012, he threw two punches straight at Mr Cheo's face.

The 53-year-old ended up with a bleeding eye, and later suffered a detached retina - a condition where the retina peels away from the outer layers of the eye, which can cause blindness.

Yesterday, Teow, 52, was sentenced to two weeks' jail after pleading guilty to causing hurt.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Mansoor Amir said the incident happened when Teow had been walking along a narrow passageway in the showroom and he and Mr Cheo, who was standing ahead of him, bumped into each other.

When Mr Cheo went to Changi General Hospital, his right eye was bleeding and a subsequent examination at the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) showed retinal detachment.

A SNEC consultant said that the retinal detachment was "not caused solely by being punched" but was "most likely precipitated by the punch".

Another contributory factor could be the victim's history of high myopia - which increases the risk for the condition.

Mr Cheo was given 78 days of medical leave.

Mr Mansor had asked for a jail sentence saying a vulnerable part of the body - the eye - had been injured as a result of Teow's unprovoked attack.

Teow's actions were entirely disproportionate to any alleged provocation, he said.

Pleading for a fine, lawyer A. Sangeetha said her client was a good worker and not a violent person by nature. His offer of compensation to the victim had been rejected, she said.

District Judge Lee Poh Choo said it was an unfortunate circumstance which arose from a very minor incident.

"This is something that I would have expected (from) young persons who tend to be more volatile," she said.

"I am very surprised that this minor bumping incident between mature 50-plus-year-old men would escalate to such an extent," she said.

The judge allowed Teow, who is out on $15,000 bail, to defer his sentence until tomorrow.

This article was published on April 29 in The Straits Times.

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