Dutch retiree jailed a day and fined for punching Tigerair cabin crew member

SINGAPORE - A retiree who punched a cabin crew member in the shoulder while in transit at Changi Airport was jailed for a day on Friday.

Dutch national Gerrit Eveleens, 66, was also fined $3,000 after he admitting punching Mr Tan Leek Hwee, 46, on his shoulder after boarding the Tigerair at Terminal 2 at about 4pm on Jan 22.

The court heard that Eveleens had flown from Jakarta to Singapore and had got on his onward flight to Bangkok when he took an empty seat on row 13 instead of the one he had been allocated.

On seeing this, Mr Tan explained to him that it was an emergency seat which had more legroom and that he had to pay more to upgrade.

When he was given a seat upgrade card to fill up, Eveleens threw it and told the victim: "Shut up, I don't speak English."

Mr Tan sought the help of the captain who managed to convince Eveleens to return to his original seat.

While walking along the aisle towards the seat, he suddenly punched Mr Tan on his right shoulder. The captain stepped in and told him to leave but he refused.

The captain signalled to the ground staff to call the police. Eveleens, who was given another chance to leave, finally did so, shouting disparaging remarks about the airline on his way out.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhammad Faizal Nooraznan sought a short custodial sentence for Eveleens, saying he was the sole aggressor and had attacked the crew member without any provocation.

"The incident happened just before take-off and caused inconvenience to the passengers boarding the plane," he said.

Eveleens said through a Dutch interpreter that he was very sorry and wanted to go back home as soon as possible.

He could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000.

elena@sph.com.sg