Norwegian in cabby assault retrial told by crowd: 'You will leave S'pore in a coffin'

"You will leave Singapore in a coffin," one bystander allegedly told Arne Corneliussen.

This was after the Norwegian had pinned down a cabby, who had punched him on the left side of his face at Boat Quay last September.

But the crowd that had gathered to watch the commotion thought that Corneliussen was the aggressor.

Three men tried to pull him off cabby Chan Chuan Heng, 47. Other people also began shouting at him.

This was part of the testimony of Corneliussen, a Singapore permanent resident, who took the stand during his retrial yesterday.

He faces one charge of causing hurt by wrapping his hands around the cabby's neck.

Yesterday, the 51-year-old told the court that he had argued with Chan over the taxi fare in the early morning of Sept 22 last year, hours after a Formula 1 race he had attended.

Eager to get home after a round of drinks with friends, he was looking for a taxi when he found Chan.

The cabby was standing beside his taxi near Boomarang Bistro & Bar at Boat Quay.

But Corneliussen said he was quoted a $45 flat fare to get to his East Coast home.


Said Corneliussen: "I insisted to use the meter. I have been living in Singapore for a while and I know a flat fare is not allowed.

"So I told him I would report him if he chose not to use the meter.

"He got angry and the next thing I know is that everything went black."

Two witnesses testified on Monday that Chan had hit Corneliussen with his right hand at that point.

Corneliussen recalled squatting on the pavement and bleeding from his face, then getting back up on his feet.

But he could not remember chasing Chan three times and grabbing him by the neck, which witnesses said he did.

He believes the memory loss was due to a concussion from the blow, he later told prosecutors during their cross-examination.

He could recall that the crowd had behaved aggressively towards him, so he left the scene as he did not feel safe.

But he later returned to the scene.

"I decided to go back because I wanted to report it. I had been hit, had a headache and was bleeding from the side of my face," he said.

When he got back, he was stopped by three to four people.

One man told him that he would be leaving Singapore in a coffin.

Soon after Corneliussen was charged on Dec 8 last year, he was fired from his job as a programme management director at DHL.

He had also paid Chan $30,000 in compensation after a meeting between the two parties. Chan had asked for the money, said Corneliussen.

His lawyer, Mr Terence Seah from Virtus Law, said that Corneliussen pleaded guilty because he had been too drunk to remember the details of the fight, and the police had eyewitness accounts that he had attacked Chan.

The Norwegian recalled being surprised when Mr Seah told him about the new witnesses. He was then in prison, serving his 10-week jail sentence.

He had been in jail for around six weeks when he was released.

District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim will deliver her verdict on Feb 12 next year.

This article was first published on December 30, 2015.
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