Norwegian who was sentenced to 10 weeks' jail for assaulting cabby fined $2,000 after retrial

Arne Corneliussen was fined $2,000, after a retrial of the case.
Arne Corneliussen was fined $2,000, after a retrial of the case. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A Norwegian man who hurt a taxi driver by wrapping his arm around the latter's neck, and later served slightly more than half of his 10-week jail term, was on Tuesday (Feb 16) fined $2,000 after a retrial.

The case of Arne Corneliussen, 51, was sent for a retrial after two eyewitnesses came forward to provide fresh evidence that cabbie Chan Chuan Heng, 47, had attacked him first.

Corneliussen, a Singapore permanent resident, had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of hurting Chan at about 1 am on Sept 22 , 2014 at the junction of Circular and North Canal roads, after a night of drinking.

That charge stated that he had grabbed Chan's neck from behind and choked him after the cabby fell.

Corneliussen, who had scant recollection of the incident, also paid Chan $30,000 in compensation. He lost his job as a programme management director at multinational logistics company DHL.

After he was convicted and sentenced in April last year, two Singaporean men, who had read a newspaper report of the case and had witnessed the altercation between Chan and Corneliussen, came forward to say that Chan was actually the aggressor.

In May, the High Court sent the case back to the State Courts for a retrial. Corneliussen's charge was also amended to causing hurt by wrapping his arm around Chan's neck.

In her brief grounds of decision, District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim said the four eyewitnesses who testified during the two-day trial in December were consistent in their evidence that Corneliussen had gone on top of Chan.

Three of the witnesses also said that Corneliussen had wrapped his arm around Chan.

The judge said that Chan "must have been in pain as the accused had exerted a very strong force during the wrapping of his neck and from the sounds which he was making... described as argh, argh" by two of the witnesses.

The judge rejected Corneliussen's defence of private arrest. As he was unable to remember details of the incident, he could not say that this was his intention when he chased Chan thrice, pinned him to the ground and wrapped his arms around the cabby's neck with such force that three men found it hard to pull him away.

If what Corneliussen wanted was to get Chan's particulars, he could have recorded the taxi's licence plate number or called for the police and waited by the taxi, the judge noted.

Chan, 47, has been charged with causing hurt and lying to the police. His case is before the courts.

The maximum penalty for causing hurt is two years' jail and a $5,000 fine.The maximum punishment for giving false information to the police is one year's jail and a $5,000 fine.