$4k fine for manager who punched cabby after vomiting in taxi

An IT manager who threw up in a taxi after a night of drinking apologised to the driver and promised to pay the cleaning bill.

But when the cabby pulled over at a petrol kiosk, Gareth John walked away without even paying his fare. When Mr Ng Kian Leong tried to stop him, the Briton punched him in the chest and threatened to kill him.

John - a permanent resident who has worked in Singapore for 18 years - was fined $4,000 yesterday after pleading guilty to voluntarily causing hurt to Mr Ng.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh told the court that on Aug 19, 2016, John got in Mr Ng's taxi at about 9.30pm after drinking with friends at Boat Quay. After vomiting, he apologised and agreed to pay the $30 cleaning fee.

Mr Ng then drove to a petrol kiosk along MacPherson Road to clean up the mess. But he later saw John, who had alighted from the taxi, walking away from the petrol kiosk.

The 49-year-old cabby chased after John and asked him why he had walked away without paying but John kept trying to move away.

Mr Ng then called the police and stood in front of John to prevent him from leaving. When John flagged down another taxi, Mr Ng informed the taxi driver about the situation, and the latter drove off.

"The accused then turned to the victim and threatened to kill the victim if he tried to stop him again," said DPP Koh.

When Mr Ng called the police again, John punched him in the chest. John then offered Mr Ng $100 to settle the matter, but the cabby declined it. Mr Ng accepted John's taxi fare payment only when the police arrived. John also paid the petrol kiosk the cleaning fee.

Mr Ng suffered tenderness to his chest and was give two days of medical leave.

In their submissions, John's lawyers, Mr Shashi Nathan and Mr Jeremy Pereira, said John is remorseful and has compensated Mr Ng $316 for his medical expenses and loss of income. They added that though John was "highly apologetic", Mr Ng had shouted at him and repeatedly called him an "ang moh".

For voluntarily causing hurt, John could have been jailed for two years and fined $5,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2018, with the headline '$4k fine for manager who punched cabby after vomiting in taxi'. Print Edition | Subscribe