Filipino woman jailed five weeks for attacking taxi driver, fined $500 for failing to pay full fare

Marie Antonette Buhain Llagas, who was drunk at a time, hit a cabby with her shoe after a dispute over her fare.
Marie Antonette Buhain Llagas, who was drunk at a time, hit a cabby with her shoe after a dispute over her fare.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A Filipina who was drunk and soiled a taxi with vomit was jailed for five weeks on Wednesday (July 19) for hitting the cabby with her shoe.

Marie Antonette Buhain Llagas, 41, who was doing sales at the time, was fined $500 for paying taxi driver Chua Cheng Hwa, 47, only part of the taxi fare without reasonable excuse. She paid him $20 when the actual fare was $24.90. The incident, which took place on Dec 21, 2015, happened at the ground floor of a block of flats at Pasir Ris Drive 10.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Rene Jeyaraj told the court that when Llagas, who is a Singapore permanent resident, boarded Mr Chua's taxi along Mosque Street on Dec 20 that year, he observed that she reeked of alcohol. He passed a plastic bag to her in case she needed to vomit.

She did during the journey. At some point, she dropped the bag of vomit. Mr Chua then pulled up the taxi along Kaki Bukit slip road to check.

When he saw vomit stains on the rear passenger seats and on the floor mat, he told her that he needed to send his taxi for cleaning, and that it would affect his earnings for the night. Llagas voluntarily offered to pay $50 as compensation, and to clean up the stains. Mr Chua agreed and proceeded with the journey to Pasir Ris.

On arrival at the loading bay of the block , Llagas' 48-year-old boyfriend was waiting for her. She alighted but did not fork out the $24.90 fare nor the $50. Instead, she walked away with her boyfriend.

Mr Chua then went after her. Llagas told him that she would not pay him the compensation of $50 but only the taxi fare of $24.90 and offered to clean up the taxi.

Mr Chua agreed and followed the couple into the lift to collect the cleaning equipment.

When they arrived at level 15, Llagas walked off first. Mr Chua subsequently went down to the ground floor with Llagas' boyfriend to wait for her.

At 12.27am, she came down without any cleaning equipment. She passed two pieces of $10 notes and let go of them before Mr Chua took it. She then walked off hastily with her boyfriend to the lift lobby.

After picking up the $20, Mr Chua went after Llagas and got into the lift with the couple.

Closed-circuit television footage recorded in the lift showed Mr Chua questioning Llagas for not paying him the remaining fare of $4.90. She refused to do so.

When Mr Chua tried to take a picture of her with his mobile phone, Llagas swung her hand at his phone, causing the device to fall onto the floor. She then hit him.

After coming out of the lift at the void deck, Llagas removed her shoe and used it to hit Mr Chua a few times.

A passer-by intervened and used his body to shield the taxi driver.

The witness said that Llagas disregarded his advice to not chase after Mr Chua. Another witness stopped her from pursuing Mr Chua and persuaded her to put on her shoes.

In passing sentence, District Judge Eugene Teo took into account that the taxi driver did not suffer any serious injury and that Llagas was remorseful and tendered her apology.

He said her lawyer Sarbrinder Singh's plea that she be given a fine or a light imprisonment term was "completely unrealistic'' for such an offence.

"From the cases, it ought to become clear that it really does not matter who you are, local or foreign, rich or poor, have family to support or not, because if you behave this way, you can expect to receive an appropriately stiff sentence even if you are a first offender,'' said Judge Teo.

Llagas could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000 for causing hurt. For the second charge, the maximum penalty is a $1,000 fine.