German who came to install sculpture in Changi's T4 jailed for head-butting police officer

The departure hall at Changi Airport’s Terminal 4 on Oct 24, 2017.
The departure hall at Changi Airport’s Terminal 4 on Oct 24, 2017.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - A kinetic art specialist on a work assignment in Singapore at the soon-to-open Terminal 4 Changi Airport was jailed for three months on Wednesday (Oct 25) for head-butting a police officer.

German national Markus Spalteholz, 27, admitted to head-butting the forehead of Sergeant Lim Zi Sheng, 26, at 11.47pm at Clarke Quay on April 29, 2017, causing the police officer to suffer a "non-tender slight right frontal scalp swelling".

Responding to a report of "damaging property and molestation", troopers from Special Operations Command (SOC) of the police force had arrived at River Valley Road that evening and saw Spalteholz pinned on the ground by bouncers outside The Pump Room.

The bouncers said the German national had behaved violently earlier.

As the officers placed Spalteholz in a rear wrist lock, he resisted and threatened two of the officers, saying: "I will find you, and I remember your face".

Several other officers, including Special Constabulary Sgt Nu'man Shariff Mohidin, 20, arrived soon after.

Spalteholz, who was shouting repeatedly, was arrested for disorderly behaviour after refusing to stop.

While Sgt Nu'man was kneeling in front of Spalteholz and trying to ascertain his particulars, Spalteholz suddenly broke free.

He swung a hand towards the SOC troopers, and the patrol officers assisting in the arrest. Spalteholz struck Sgt Nu'man's chin and arms.

After he was handcuffed, Spalteholz was escorted to the police car but he refused to get in.

As Sgt Lim bent down to manoeuvre Spalteholz's legs into the police car, he headbutted the officer on the right side of his head.

Arguing for at least four months' jail to be imposed, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sarah Ong said such offences are becoming increasingly prevalent. Any attack on a public servant in the performance of his duties cannot be condoned and must be met with a stiff deterrent sentence, she said.

She cited a December 2016 Straits Times article which stated that there were 328 cases of abuse of Home Team officers in the first eight months of 2016, and 344 cases in 2015. This works out to almost one case per day, she said.

There were aggravating factors including Spalteholz's intoxication, his disorderly conduct and the assault on two police officers, causing them to suffer injuries.

Pleading for leniency, Spalteholz's lawyer Darshan Singh said his client arrived on April 19 and had been working tirelessly on the project to install decorative "Petalcloud" at T4.

Spalteholz had several beers that night and was injured during a scuffle with an unidentified man.

This, coupled with his disorientation and distress from the injuries sustained, reduced his inhibitions and awareness, said the lawyer, who asked for one month's jail.

He also stated in his mitigation plea that Spalteholz was instrumental in the building, design and conceptualisation of the Rain Kinetic project at Terminal 1, and is likely to lose his job.

The maximum penalty for causing hurt to a public servant is seven years' jail, fine, caning or any combined sentence.