Financial adviser gets six weeks for attacking cabby

SINGAPORE - A financial adviser who struck a taxi driver several times on his face and chest and choked him was sentenced to six weeks' jail on Tuesday.

Mark Ho Chia Hwa, 37, who was drunk at the time, is considering an appeal and was freed on $15,000 bail.

He admitted to causing hurt to taxi driver Wong Siew Mun, 53, at the open air carpark of Block 16 Ghim Moh Road at about 5.50am on Aug 16 last year.

The court heard Mr Wong picked up Ho and a female friend at Orchard Towers at about 4.45am that day after Ho had drinks with friends at Orchard KTV.

After dropping off the female passenger, Mr Wong proceeded to Ghim Moh and stopped at the multi-storey carpark to ask where Ho wanted to go.

Without warning, Ho suddenly alighted from the taxi and started to walk away without paying the taxi fare of $33.

Mr Wong quickly got out of the cab and asked Ho for payment. But Ho argued with him and punched him in the face once before walking away.

The victim managed to get up, and chased Ho for his payment.

When Ho was stopped, he punched Mr Wong on his face and chest several times, causing him to fall onto the floor a second time. Ho then pinned him to the ground and used both his hands to choke him. He only stopped when a passer-by intervened.

Ho has made a voluntary compensation of $4,000 to Mr Wong and apologised to him.

Seeking a two to three-month sentence, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai highlighted several aggravating factors - criminal violence used against a public transport worker; that the attack took place in the wee hours of the morning while the offender was intoxicated; and its "sustained and brutish" nature.

Pleading for leniency, Ho said he had sought to be a productive member of society all his life and there is no chance of reoffending. Ho, who had been working in China,  moved back to Singapore only last year as his aged parents' health had deteriorated.

District Judge Lee Poh Choo noted that Ho reacted with violence to the extent of trying to strangle the taxi driver, who merely wanted his fare.

Ho could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000.

elena@sph.com.sg