Cabby who lied about fight to police jailed

Taxi driver Chan Chuan Heng has been found guilty of punching Norwegian Arne Corneliussen in September 2014 and of giving false information to the police.
Taxi driver Chan Chuan Heng has been found guilty of punching Norwegian Arne Corneliussen in September 2014 and of giving false information to the police.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A taxi driver was sentenced to a total of 19 weeks in jail yesterday for punching a Norwegian man on the head and giving false information to the police.

Chan Chuan Heng, 48, was found guilty after a four-day trial of punching the head of Mr Arne Corneliussen at the intersection of Circular Road and North Canal Road at about 1am on Sept 22, 2014.

He was also convicted of giving false information to the police the next day. Chan claimed then that Mr Corneliussen slapped him immediately after he told Mr Corneliussen that he was going to the toilet.

Chan, defended by Mr Steven Lam, began his jail term yesterday, although he wants to appeal.

Mr Corneliussen, a Singapore permanent resident, was sentenced to 10 weeks in jail in April 2015 after admitting to grabbing Chan's neck and choking him after a night of drinking. He also paid $30,000 in compensation to Chan.

In May 2015, the High Court quashed the former DHL director's conviction for causing hurt, and Mr Corneliussen was retried and fined $2,000 in February last year for wrapping his arm around the cabby's neck. He earlier served 51/2 weeks of the 10-week jail sentence.

Mr Corneliussen, 52, who now lives in Batam, said it was a good thing the law did not allow Chan to get away with what he did.

"In the greater scheme of things, he is going through what I went through as well," he said. "But I still lost my job, I lost money to him and I also spent a lot on legal fees, so I can't say I feel like justice was done. He has yet to reach out to me to offer compensation of any sort."

Chan's deeds were exposed after Mr Roslan Zainal and his friend Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood read about the case in The New Paper.

They told the police that Chan's version of events was not true and that he was the aggressor.

In passing sentence, District Judge Adam Nakhoda said Chan used considerable force when punching the Norwegian and the blow was forceful enough that it caused Mr Corneliussen to black out and lose consciousness for a short period of time. It also affected his recollection of events.

Judge Nakhoda agreed with prosecutors that the assault was unprovoked and came after Mr Corneliussen rightfully told Chan he would report him to the Land Transport Authority for insisting on a flat fare.

He also found that Chan was clearly the aggressor in the incident.

The judge agreed with the prosecution that Chan's motive in giving false information was malicious, as he wanted to get Mr Corneliussen in trouble with the police.

Chan also deliberately did not submit the in-car camera footage that would have captured the sound of his earlier altercation with Mr Corneliussen, and would have cast the entire incident in a different light.

The fact that he did not recant despite the evidence against him showed a distinct lack of remorse on his part, said the judge.

He added that the correct thing to do would have been for Chan to return the $30,000 compensation to Mr Corneliussen. But if he insisted he was still entitled to it, he should sue Mr Corneliussen for damages.

•Additional reporting by Ng Jun Sen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2017, with the headline 'Cabby who lied about fight to police jailed'. Print Edition | Subscribe