Cleaner gets four weeks' jail for punching ex-girlfriend at Family Justice Courts

SINGAPORE - Angry with his former girlfriend for taking him to court over a maintenance matter, a man spat at her three times and punched her on the nose.

On Friday (Feb 23), the 32-year-old cleaner, who cannot be named due to a gag order, was sentenced to four weeks' jail after admitting to causing hurt to the 31-year-old woman at the Family Justice Courts at Havelock Square on March 31 last year.

A second charge of using criminal force on her was considered during his sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Woon Kwong said the parties had appeared before a district judge at the Family Justice Courts that day to hear an application by the victim.

The accused had defaulted in his maintenance payments to their daughter.

When the case was stood down pending the judge's decision, the accused and the victim proceeded to the waiting area and sat on separate sofas. The accused's 26-year-old wife sat with him. She was carrying her infant in a baby carrier across her chest.

DPP Wong said the accused was particularly angry with the victim that day for taking him to court where he would likely be ordered to make good on his arrears of $7,790. The maintenance order was made in February 2014.

While waiting, the accused and his wife insulted the victim, who walked away and sought help from a senior security officer.

But even in the officer's presence, the couple continued to hurl insults at the victim.

When the security officer saw the couple moving towards the victim, he tried to block them by standing between the two sides.

Shortly after the couple moved away, the accused forced his way towards the victim and spat at her three times. Not satisfied, he removed his slipper and gestured aggressively at the victim.

The man's wife then scuffled with the victim, forcing both the security officer and the accused to break it up. At that point, the accused suddenly punched the victim on the nose, causing her to bleed profusely. The coupled laughed when they saw this.

The man's pro bono lawyer Low Jianhui asked for a fine of $3,000 to $4,000 or no more than two weeks' jail. He said in the heat of the moment, the man hit his former girlfriend as he was concerned for the safety of his wife and son.

District Judge Lorraine Ho said the accused should not have used force on his ex-girlfriend in a dispute over maintenance with her. She said his acts, which could be seen from the video, were not only ungentlemanly but unkind.

"I think no man should use force on any lady. Instead, learn to be a responsible father," she added. In sentencing him, she took into account that he undertakes to pay the victim compensation of $114 for her medical expenses.

The prosecution asked for the sentence to be deferred and Judge Ho ordered the accused to surrender on March 9.

Separately, the man has also been ordered to pay the victim $200 a month for maintenance of their daughter and make good on the arrears.

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