Ex-Navy Seal gets 4 weeks' jail for punching cabby

Ian Damery Fitzgerald, 31, was convicted of hitting a taxi driver and throwing his walkie-talkie into Marina Bay after a drunken night out.
Ian Damery Fitzgerald, 31, was convicted of hitting a taxi driver and throwing his walkie-talkie into Marina Bay after a drunken night out.ST FILE PHOTO

American assaulted cabby and took his coin pouch after he refused to take him in his taxi

Drunk after a night out in town, a former US Navy Seal punched and repeatedly pushed a taxi driver after the latter refused to ferry him.

Ian Damery Fitzgerald, who at 1.9m tall towered over the 1.65m-tall cabby, also threw his victim's walkie- talkie into the waters in Marina Bay.

The 31-year-old student in the United States was sentenced yesterday to four weeks' jail and an $800 fine. He is out on $5,000 bail, pending his appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Fitzgerald, who left the US Navy's principal special operations force two years ago, was here on a social visit pass when he committed the offences last year.

He was convicted last month, after a 51/2-day trial, of hurting Mr Lim Chin Sheng, 42, near Marina Boulevard and throwing his walkie- talkie into Marina Bay at about 12.50am on May 31. He had denied assaulting the cabby and tossing the walkie-talkie into the waters.

The court heard that Mr Lim was driving along Marina Boulevard, just past the NTUC Centre, when Fitzgerald, who was with his girlfriend, stood in the middle of the leftmost lane to flag down the taxi.

The couple boarded, but Mr Lim refused to take them to Balmoral Crescent because he was not comfortable about picking up passengers on roads which had double zigzag lines, as it was a traffic offence.

Mr Lim then left the taxi to throw some rubbish at a nearby bus stop.

The victim was walking back to his taxi when he saw Fitzgerald leaning from the back to the front driver seat. He noticed that Fitzgerald had taken his coin pouch and snatched it back from him.

Fitzgerald slammed the taxi door on Mr Lim's leg, and pushed him to the ground. He later pushed Mr Lim to the ground three more times.

Mr Lim called the police and told Fitzgerald to remain at the scene, but he walked away and Mr Lim pursued him. At the Promenade area, Fitzgerald turned around and punched Mr Lim in the face, causing bruises. When the cabby fell, his mobile phone and walkie-talkie also fell out.

Fitzgerald picked up the walkie-talkie and threw it away.

Mr Lim continued to follow Fitzgerald. While they were near OUE Tower, Fitzgerald pushed Mr Lim into a water fountain.

Asked why he had followed Fitzgerald over such a great distance, Mr Lim said he wanted "justice to be done'', and did not want him to do the same thing to other people.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai, who sought six to 10 weeks' jail on the hurt charge, said that Fitzgerald had assaulted a public transport worker, and that his acts of aggression were unprovoked and wholly unwarranted.

District Judge Low Wee Ping agreed that the assault was of a "sustained nature'' and that the attacks were repeated.

Judge Low found that the incident could be fairly and correctly described as "an almost one-sided assault'', and that Fitzgerald was the aggressor.

The maximum punishment for causing hurt is two years' jail and a $5,000 fine; and for mischief, one year and a fine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2015, with the headline 'Ex-Navy Seal gets 4 weeks' jail for punching cabby'. Print Edition | Subscribe