SINGAPORE - Kidnapped as a child in 1969, eye doctor Lennard Harold Thean See Yin developed a fear of dying inside a vehicle after his abductors' car careened off a road and ended up inside a drain with him in it.
On March 18 last year, an incident on the road triggered a reaction by the head of ophthalmology at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH).
Thean, who has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, became aggressive after what he felt was a near collision.
Unhappy with the other motorist, the 55-year-old tailed the private-hire car driver before throwing a wine bottle at the man's vehicle. It struck the left tail light, causing more than $2,000 in damage.
Thean on Wednesday (Feb 19) pleaded guilty in a district court to committing a rash act. He has also compensated the driver - 36-year-old Mr Martin Lu Junwei - in full.
The court heard that on the day of the incident, Mr Lu had picked up two passengers at around 8.30pm and was told to drive to Queen Astrid Park, near Holland Road.
As he approached a roundabout along Coronation Road West, he stopped his car about 2m beyond the stop line.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan said: "This caused the accused's car, which was approaching from the victim's right and had right of way, to quickly halt his car to avoid any potential accident.
"The accused sounded his horn at the victim. Both the victim's and accused's cars did not collide and were about 2m apart at the time."
Mr Lu waved his right hand in apology but Thean "gestured angrily" at him instead. He then drove after the younger man while repeatedly sounding his horn.
When Mr Lu's passengers alighted about a minute later, Thean pulled up next to Mr Lu's car, wound down his window and started shouting at him.
Mr Lu drove away as he wanted to avoid a confrontation but the older man continued following him before throwing the bottle at the private-hire car.
Mr Lu inspected his car soon after and found a hole on the left tail light as well as a dent and scratches to the chrome portion. He lodged a police report two days later.
Defence lawyer Leo Cheng Suan said that his client had acted "totally out of character".
The court heard that Thean had consulted Institute of Mental Health senior consultant Stephen Phang.
Testifying in court on Wednesday, Dr Phang told District Judge Marvin Bay that Thean was kidnapped in 1969 when he was about five years old.
He was in his abductors' car on Jan 24 that year when it careened off a road and ended up in a drain.
His kidnappers later dropped him off at his home.
The Straits Times reported on Aug 20, 1969, that the mastermind of the kidnapping was later sentenced to five years' jail.
Dr Phang said Thean has "a fear of his own mortality inside a car" and now requires "a lot of therapy and treatment".
The court heard that he is currently undergoing treatment and is not a danger to his patients.
Addressing Thean, Judge Bay said: "On the surface, your actions are wholly impulsive and intemperate and unbecoming of a senior medical professional.
"I do, however, accept, from the testimony of Dr Stephen Phang, that there have been triggers as a result of your major depressive disorder, which precipitated the incident you have pleaded guilty to."
Judge Bay has called for a report to assess Thean's suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO).
Offenders given an MTO have to undergo treatment for their mental condition in lieu of jail time.
In a statement on Wednesday, an NTFGH spokesman said: "We are aware that Dr Thean has pleaded guilty to his charges in the State Court... We will await the judgment by the court."
Thean is now out on bail of $5,000 and will be sentenced on March 18.
For committing the rash act, he can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $2,500.