Man gets four weeks' jail for attacking taxi driver

Nantakumar V. Ramachandra was found guilty of punching a taxi driver so hard in the face that the driver passed out.
Nantakumar V. Ramachandra was found guilty of punching a taxi driver so hard in the face that the driver passed out.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A commodity trader punched a taxi driver so hard in the face that the driver passed out after he demanded his taxi fare, a court heard.

Nantakumar V. Ramachandra, 42, was found guilty last Friday (July 7) - after a three-day trial - of punching Mr Lim Sin Eng, 58, at Mayfair Gardens condominium in Rifle Range Road at 5.35am on May 5, 2015.

He was sentenced to four weeks' jail on Thursday (July 13), but will begin his sentence only on Aug 11, so that he can settle some work-related and personal matters. Bail of $8,000 was granted.

Mr Lim testified that Nantakumar punched him once in the left corner of his lower lip when he asked for his fare at the carpark of the condominium in Bukit Timah.

He passed out and regained consciousness shortly after.

When he saw Nantakumar about to leave the condominium, he tried to give chase but a security guard stopped him.

In his brief oral judgment, District Judge Lim Tse Haw said this was one of the rare cases where Nantakumar's attack on the victim was witnessed by an independent witness.

The witness, a resident of the condominium, said that he was roused from his sleep by the sound of an idling car engine.

When he looked out of the window, he saw that there was an argument. A male passenger, whom he recognised as his neighbour, and the cabby came out of the vehicle.

The male passenger went over and punched the taxi driver, who fell and did not get up.

Nantakumar's version was that Mr Lim became very unhappy when he had only a $100 bill when the fare was only $15.

He claimed that when he wanted to go to a petrol kiosk outside to get small change, Mr Lim became aggressive and accused him of trying to evade paying the taxi fare.

Nantakumar alleged that Mr Lim grabbed him by the right shoulder area very tightly. He added that he could not breathe and broke free by raising his hands; Mr Lim then slipped and fell forward onto the ground.

Judge Lim said in his judgment that he had no difficulty in accepting the evidence of the prosecution witnesses. On the other hand, he said, Nantakumar's evidence was "riddled with inconsistencies", and he had also shown himself to be an evasive witness.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jotham Tay had sought at least four week's imprisonment.

Nantakumar had previous convictions for using abusive language, causing hurt to a public servant and abetment of cheating.

He has paid $1,000 compensation to Mr Lim for loss of earnings and other inconveniences. The maximum penalty for causing hurt is two years' jail and a $5,000 fine.