Law don accused of assaulting cabby over change

SINGAPORE - An assistant law professor with the National University of Singapore (NUS) assaulted a cabby over the change for a $20 fare, leaving him bloodied and in need of multiple stitches, a court heard yesterday.

Sundram Peter Soosay, 43, had vomited in Mr Sun Chuan Hua's vehicle in the wee hours of Christmas Day in 2013.

He got out near King Albert Park in Bukit Timah and started to walk away without paying, but handed over a $50 note after the 70-year-old cabby chased him.

It is alleged that Soosay then attacked Mr Sun from behind as he returned to the vehicle to retrieve the change, knocking him to the ground and punching him several times in the face and body, an incident that was seen by an eyewitness.

In a trial that began yesterday, Mr Sun told the court he could smell alcohol on the breath of Soosay, who had boarded the cab along Serangoon North Avenue 1 to go to Clementi Road.

To get the passenger to pay, Mr Sun said he asked him several times and touched him "lightly" on the arm. Soosay paid when Mr Sun threatened to make a police report.

As he was walking back to his cab, someone hit him in the head, causing him to fall face down, said Mr Sun.

He tried to get up but Soosay forced him back on the ground, sat astride him, and continued punching him in the face, the cabby claimed.

Mr Sun, who needed 17 days of medical leave, told the court in Mandarin that he had got his taxi licence in 1983 and this had never happened to him before.

The eyewitness claimed he saw the two men scuffle before the alleged assault.

In his cross-examination of the witness, defence counsel Amarjit Singh said his client had walked away after the scuffle and did not attack the cabby. He suggested that the cabby had provoked Soosay by pushing him repeatedly in the back and throwing a punch of his own.

Mr Sun will stay on the stand when hearing resumes on Feb 5.

If convicted, Soosay, a permanent resident here, could be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

An NUS spokesman said Soosay joined the university in 2008. "NUS will await the conclusion of legal proceedings before determining what action, if any, should be taken."