Two more months' jail for Aussie in airport scuffle

Screen grab from a video showing Jason Peter Darragh tussling with police officers at Changi Airport in April.
Screen grab from a video showing Jason Peter Darragh tussling with police officers at Changi Airport in April.PHOTO: YOUTUBE/BEN BONIFANT

Prosecution had appealed for harsher sentence over his 'defiance and audacity'

He was due to be released from prison on Friday, but a rowdy Australian who was involved in a drunken scuffle with police officers will now have to spend more time in jail.

The High Court yesterday added two more months to the jail term imposed on Jason Peter Darragh, 44, following an appeal by prosecutors for a stiffer sentence.

Darragh, who was in Changi Airport in transit at the time of the offence, had been drunk and resisted arrest. The incident was captured in a video that went viral.

He was initially sentenced by a district court last month to a prison term of six months and two weeks, backdated to May 13, when he was remanded in custody.

Yesterday, Justice See Kee Oon said the footage clearly showed that Darragh was intent on obstructing and intimidating the police officers.

"His taunts and verbal abuse demonstrated his complete contempt and disregard for their authority," said the judge.

He noted that police officers are the "most visible" among law enforcement officers, called upon to deal with all manner of risky and unpredictable situations. "The courts must firmly uphold their authority each time it is undermined."

Darragh, who is jobless, had flown in from Perth on April 19 afternoon. He was in transit to catch a flight later that day to the Philippines to meet his girlfriend.

NO RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY

His taunts and verbal abuse demonstrated his complete contempt and disregard for their authority.

JUSTICE SEE KEE OON, on how Darragh meant to intimidate his arresting officers.

He drank at the airport, and went to Clarke Quay, where he continued drinking. Intoxicated, he returned to the airport but could not find his way around Terminal 2. He asked a passer-by for directions, but suddenly turned aggressive.

The passer-by went to the terminal's police post for help. Inspector Elzac Lee Chee Keong, 39, and Senior Staff Sergeant Koh See Yong, 42, approached Darragh but he became verbally abusive. The officers decided to arrest him.

Darragh put on his headphones and began dancing to taunt the officers. At one point, he charged at Senior Staff Sgt Koh and hit the officer's face with his hand. The officer's back hit a metal stand before he stumbled back and fell to the floor. Darragh also pushed Insp Lee's chest and hands multiple times. It took at least six police officers to arrest him.

After he was released on police bail, Darragh continued offending.

Twice, he got drunk and caused annoyance to others near Clarke Quay. He also verbally abused a police officer who escorted him to a hospital after he was found drunk at Orchard Towers.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien argued that the original jail term was manifestly inadequate, given the degree of "defiance and audacity" displayed by Darragh, and that the airport scuffle had caused public disquiet.

Darragh's lawyer, Mr S. S. Dhillon, said his client regrets his foolish acts and has learnt a "severe lesson".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'Two more months' jail for Aussie in airport scuffle'. Print Edition | Subscribe