An elderly Catholic priest reported "seeing stars" after he was punched on the nose in a road rage incident in February last year.
Yesterday, the culprit, provision shop owner Dick Lim Poh Guan, 25, was jailed seven weeks for hurting the priest. Lim, who was tried originally for causing grievous hurt, admitted to an amended charge of hurting Father Adrian Anthony, 72.
The priest suffered a nasal tip fracture and multiple bruises in the attack in Cashin Street.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Clement Yong said Father Anthony had finished work at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Feb 20 and decided to drive to a McDonald's restaurant near Bras Basah Complex for dinner. At the junction of Victoria Street and Middle Road, he stopped to allow pedestrians to cross before making a right turn.
Lim, who was in a van behind with his wife, blasted his horn, startling the priest. Father Anthony, nevertheless, carried on to Cashin Street, where he parked his car. Lim then approached the priest's car and gestured to him. He also knocked on his windscreen. As Father Anthony thought Lim wanted to park in that space, he wound down his window. Lim shouted at him over the way he drove earlier.
Father Anthony then stepped out of his car to take a photo of Lim's vehicle number, but Lim snatched his mobile phone. Lim's wife, Ms Ao Lin, then 20, asked Father Anthony why he had stopped at the junction and if he wanted her husband to "bang your car from behind?". Only then did Father Anthony realise that the confrontation arose from the honking incident earlier. He tried to take his phone back but Lim resisted and punched him on his nose.
Father Anthony fell and Lim kicked him once. The priest started bleeding from his nose and tried to get up but failed. Lim then threw the victim's phone on the ground, damaging it. A passer-by called for an ambulance.
Pleading for leniency, Lim's lawyer, Mr Mervyn Tan, said his client paid compensation of $500 to the priest and wants to apologise to him. Lim, he added, is taking care of his parents and committed the offence on the spur of the moment.
District Judge Janet Wang said the courts are monolithic in their treatment regarding road rage cases. "Violence is clearly anathema to all road users," she said.
While it was all very well to be loving and show love to his parents, she said, she did not see the same goodwill and charity extended to other elderly persons, such the victim who is older than his parents.
"In fact, you and your wife were exceedingly rude to him. I must say that your actions, as well as your wife's, were simply deplorable. You were simply bullying an old man on the road," she said. Noting that Lim had been sent to a juvenile home for violence-related offences before, Judge Wang said it did not appear to her that his stint there was constructive. Neither had he learnt from it.
Lim, a father of two, could have been jailed for up to two years and fined for causing hurt.