Woman jailed for hitting cabby

Marie Antonette Buhain Llagas hit cabby Chua Cheng Hwa when he tried to make her pay the fare. She was jailed for five weeks and fined $500.
Marie Antonette Buhain Llagas hit cabby Chua Cheng Hwa when he tried to make her pay the fare. She was jailed for five weeks and fined $500.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A woman who hit a taxi driver with her shoe when he tried to make her pay the fare was jailed for five weeks and fined $500 yesterday.

Marie Antonette Buhain Llagas, 41, had pleaded guilty earlier this month while her trial was ongoing. She was until recently a sales assistant and is now unemployed.

The court heard that cabby Chua Cheng Hwa, 47, had detected Llagas smelling of alcohol when she got into his taxi in Mosque Street at about 11.50pm on Dec 20, 2015. He gave her a plastic bag in case she was sick.

On the journey to her destination in Pasir Ris, Llagas began vomiting into the bag, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Rene Jeyaraj. At some point, she dropped the bag, and some of its contents got on the seat and mat. Mr Chua told her the taxi would have to be cleaned and it would affect his earnings for the night. Llagas offered to pay $50 as compensation, to which he agreed. But when they arrived at her block, she got out of the taxi without paying either the $24.90 fare or the compensation. Mr Chua got out and stopped her.

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Llagas told the driver she would pay only the fare and offered to clean the taxi, and he agreed. However, she came back with no cleaning equipment, just two $20 bills that she dropped as Mr Chua was reaching out to take them. She walked away with her boyfriend, while he retrieved his money and ran after them into the lift.

When Mr Chua tried to take a picture of her with his mobile phone, she swung at it and hit him. At the void deck, she also removed her shoe and hit Mr Chua with it.

In his oral sentencing remarks, District Judge Eugene Teo said he took into account the fact that the taxi driver did not suffer any serious injury, that Llagas was remorseful and had tendered an apology.

But he said her lawyer Sarbrinder Singh's plea that she be given a fine or a light jail term was "completely unrealistic'' for such an offence.

"From the cases, it ought to become clear that it really does not matter who you are, local or foreign, rich or poor, have family to support or not, because if you behave this way, you can expect to receive an appropriately stiff sentence even if you are a first offender,'' he said.

Llagas could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000 for causing hurt. On the second charge, the maximum penalty is a $1,000 fine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'Woman jailed for hitting cabby'. Print Edition | Subscribe