Pastor accused of hurting man in road rage incident

Cheo (left) allegedly cursed at Mr Tay (right) and challenged him to a fight. He is also accused of closing Mr Tay's van door on him, causing it to hit the 60-year-old businessman's forehead and hip.
Cheo (left) allegedly cursed at Mr Tay (right) and challenged him to a fight. He is also accused of closing Mr Tay's van door on him, causing it to hit the 60-year-old businessman's forehead and hip.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

A church pastor allegedly challenged another road user to a fight along an expressway and caused hurt to the latter when he declined to do so, a court heard yesterday.

Daniel Cheo Guan Beng, 46, a pastor with Impact Life Church, is accused of closing Mr Tay Kim Beng's van door on him, causing it to hit the businessman, 60, on his forehead and hip.

The alleged road rage incident took place on the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) near the Paya Lebar flyover on Jan 13 last year.

Cheo denies his single charge of voluntarily causing hurt.

Mr Tay, a managing director with Nitaki Machine Movers, told the court on the first day of the trial that Cheo had been driving an Alfa Romeo and had signalled for him to stop his Renault Kangoo.

After both pulled over on the expressway, Cheo allegedly walked "aggressively" up to Mr Tay, pointed his finger at his nose and called him "chao ah kua" and "chao ah beng", derogatory Hokkien terms.

In a "very aggressive" tone, Cheo allegedly then said: "You want to hit me, is it? (sic) Go ahead, hit me."

Through a Mandarin interpreter, Mr Tay said he tried to get back in the driver's seat, but Cheo allegedly closed the door on him, and then grabbed his hand and pulled him out. Cheo purportedly then challenged him to a fight again. "I can remember him saying 'you hit me la, you hit me, lah'," Mr Tay testified.

Back in his office in Tampines, Mr Tay called a grassroots leader, a lawyer, who advised him to make a police report.

Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Ee Kuan why he had stopped on the road, Mr Tay said: "There was some misunderstanding and the other party wanted me to stop, so I had to stop to find out what was going on."

Moments before, he had been driving behind Cheo, who was slowing down and accelerating intermittently, he said. Mr Tay saw a passenger in the front seat take some photos of his van, and he told his front passenger to also take photos of the car with his phone.

Mr Tay disagreed with Cheo's lawyer, Mr Adrian Wee, that he knew what had sparked the incident. But Mr Wee pointed out that he had told police that he had honked at Cheo - by accident - on the expressway near Farrer Road.

"The vehicle's male driver seemed unhappy and I saw that he deliberately jam brake (sic) in front of my vehicle several times," Mr Tay's police report read.

In court, Mr Tay changed his evidence, saying Cheo did not brake at all, although his speed was "erratic". He denied Mr Wee's accusation that he was tailing Cheo because the passenger had taken photos of his van. "I was not looking for trouble," Mr Tay said.

Mr Tay also denied having been "actively engaged in a disagreement on the road", when this was put to him by Cheo's lawyer.

The trial continues today before District Judge Shawn Ho.

The maximum punishment for voluntarily causing hurt is two years' jail and a $5,000 fine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline 'Pastor accused of hurting man in road rage incident'. Print Edition | Subscribe