4 years' jail for repeat offender who hit cabby

Just after Mr Esman Siran, 60, sounded his horn at Joseph Doray Saverymuthu and his friends to hurry them, the men confronted him.

During the argument, Joseph, 40, threw a punch. Sidney Fernando, 35, and Mohammad Nasar Mohamed Sali, 39, allegedly joined him in the attack on the taxi driver.

The incident at the taxi stand in front of Holland Village Shopping Centre on Dec 16, 2015, left Mr Esman with many injuries.

Yesterday, Joseph was sentenced to four years' jail and banned from driving for six years after he admitted to four charges, with three others taken into consideration.

His offences included an unrelated vehicle theft case.

A district court heard that the three men had been speaking to the cabby who was waiting ahead of Mr Esman at the taxi stand.

After Mr Esman sounded his horn, Joseph approached his taxi and rapped on the window on the passenger's side.

Mr Esman got out of the vehicle and the two exchanged words.

Joseph suddenly punched him in the face. Fernando then allegedly swung his sling bag at Mr Esman's face, causing the taxi driver to fall to the ground.

The trio then allegedly kicked and punched him, fleeing when a crowd gathered.

Mr Esman's injuries included a broken nose, multiple scrapes, loose teeth and swollen eyes.

Joseph had a separate run-in with the law in July 2015, when he stole a lorry from a warehouse in Penjuru Lane. He did not have a valid driving licence or insurance coverage.

He used the lorry to ferry friends from Cuff Road to Boat Quay to have drinks and also drove the lorry to Tekka and Geylang before returning it to the warehouse a few days later.

Joseph had previous convictions for attempted burglary, driving offences, rape, criminal intimidation and insulting modesty.

The prosecution sought preventive detention.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Koh Huimin told District Judge Low Wee Ping that the repeat offender relentlessly engaged in criminal activities, showed an utter lack of remorse and committed offences while on bail.

But Joseph's pro bono lawyer, Ms Sadhana Rai, argued that he is capable of reform if given the opportunity. She said this was the first time he had committed a violent offence, adding that preventive detention is for extreme cases.

Joseph's sentence was backdated to Dec 31, 2015. Fernando's case will be heard next month, while Mohammad Nasar has since died.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2017, with the headline '4 years' jail for repeat offender who hit cabby'. Print Edition | Subscribe