Briton jailed two months for assaulting cabby and ordered to pay compensation

Briton James O'Kane was jailed for two months for punching cabby Kamis Ismail and biting the top of his head.
Briton James O'Kane was jailed for two months for punching cabby Kamis Ismail and biting the top of his head. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A Briton on social visit here was jailed for two months on Tuesday (Oct 13) for punching and biting a taxi driver.

James O'Kane, 61, a firefighter for 27 years in Britain, was also ordered to pay compensation of $1,250 to the victim for his medical bills and loss of income for three days.

He admitted hurting Mr Kamis Ismail in the taxi at the taxi stand near Tan Tye Place at 5.21am on Sept 19. He punched the 52-year-old on the face several times and also bit the top part of his head.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Yang Ziliang said O'Kane and his son had approached Mr Kamis' taxi at the stand that day. The 34-year-old son spoke to the cabby through the partially wound down left passenger window.

After Mr Kamis agreed to take them to Sophia Road, O'Kane opened the left rear passenger door while his son intended to sit in front.

As the son opened the left passenger door, he placed his right hand on the door and his fingers became caught between the glass panel of the window and the frame of the door as the window was being wound up.

He then punched the window a few times with his left fist, shattering the glass completely, to release the pressure on his fingers.

When O'Kane asked what happened, the son replied that the victim had hurt his finger. O'Kane went to the front and entered the taxi through the open left front passenger door. He then used his hand to headlock the victim and punched him several times on the face.

The victim tried to block the blows. O'Kane bit the top part of the victim's head. Then someone came and pulled the victim out of the taxi.

O'Kane continued behaving aggressively and pushed the victim at least twice before passers-by intervened and separated the two. The victim flagged down a police patrol vehicle passing by.

He sought treatment at Changi General Hospital and was given three days' medical leave for injuries on his head and arms.

Investigations showed that father and son had been drinking in a bar in Clarke Quay and had consumed some alcohol. The son, who voluntarily paid about $480 to ComfortDelGro, was issued a stern warning for mischief last Friday.

O'Kane, who was unrepresented, apologised for his actions, saying it was out of character. He told the court that he had been a fireman for over 27 years in Britain and had received many commendations. He also apologised to his daughter, who was in court, for bringing this to her door, and to the taxi driver for the harm caused to him.

Mr Kamis said in his victim impact statement that after the incident, he now thinks twice about picking up Caucasian passengers, and avoids them. He said he also felt sad that this had happened and his wife now worries about him when he goes to work.

O'Kane could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.