Man attacked cabby who chased for fare

A drunk man who did not pay his taxi fare assaulted the cabby who chased him for it, a court heard yesterday.

Mark Ho Chia Hwa choked the driver, and was jailed for six weeks after admitting to causing hurt to the victim at the open-air carpark of Block 16, Ghim Moh Road.

The 37-year-old financial adviser to a bank is out on $15,000 bail, pending his appeal against the sentence.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai Yi Shin said Mr Wong Siew Mun, 53, picked up Ho and his female friend at Orchard Towers at about 4.45am on Aug 16 last year. Ho had been drinking with his friends at Orchard KTV, where he downed more than 10 shots of cognac.

After dropping off the female passenger, Mr Wong drove to Ghim Moh, where he stopped at the open-air carpark to ask Ho for his destination.

Without warning, Ho suddenly got out of the taxi without paying the taxi fare of $33.

Mr Wong quickly got out and asked Ho for payment. But Ho argued with him and punched him in the face once before walking away. The victim stopped Ho again, who punched him on his face and chest several times.

Ho then pinned him to the ground and choked him with both hands,stopping only when a passer-by intervened.

Seeking a two to three-month sentence, DPP 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, who has made compensation of $4,000 and apologised to Mr Wong, said he had sought to be a productive member of society all his life. He added that he moved back here from China last year to take care of his aged parents, whose health has deteriorated.

District Judge Lee Poh Choo noted that Ho reacted with violence to the extent of trying to strangle the taxi driver.

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

ELENA CHONG