Jail for New Zealander who broke cabby's nose in a drunken rage

SINGAPORE - A drunk man flew into a rage and assaulted a taxi driver who had missed a turn while driving him home and dropped his credit card during payment.

New Zealander Eugene Gerrard Buckley, 59, rained punches on 60-year-old Mr Tan Heng Choon's face, causing injuries including a chipped tooth and a broken nose.

Buckley, who is in remand and appeared in court via video link, pleaded guilty on Friday (Jan 29) to one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt and was sentenced to 30 weeks' jail.

The jail sentence was backdated to November last year when  he was remanded.

The court heard that Buckley had gone to Orchard Towers at around 9.30pm on Feb 26 last year and consumed copious amounts of alcohol at watering holes in the shopping mall.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Phoebe Tan said that he was "heavily intoxicated" by the time he entered Mr Tan's taxi with an unknown woman at around 3am the next day.

Buckley told the cabby to drive him to his Stevens Close home near Stevens Road.

When Mr Tan missed a turn into Stevens Close, Buckley became exasperated and used vulgar language to berate him, DPP Tan said.

Buckley then told him to stop along Dalvey Road and said that he wanted to pay for the fare.

The DPP said: "The accused exited the taxi and went to the front passenger seat and handed the victim his credit card.

"While dealing with the credit card, the victim dropped the card (in) an area of the car near his leg. The accused became angry, raised his voice at the victim and started throwing punches at the victim's face ."

A bloodied Mr Tan managed to get out of the taxi and Buckley then tried to offer him some money as compensation. The cabby, however, replied that he wanted to make a police report.

As Mr Tan was holding his mobile phone, Buckley took the device and tossed it away.

The taxi driver then signalled to other road users and a passer-by came forward to help him.

The DPP said that Buckley then walked away and Mr Tan tried to stop him by holding on to his bag. Buckley threatened to hit the cabby again and made his way home.

His female companion left the scene amid the ruckus, the court heard.

The passer-by alerted the police and Mr Tan was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. He was given four days of medical leave.

His medical bills came up to nearly $200 and Buckley has since made full restitution.

For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined or caned. Buckley cannot be caned as he is over 50 years old.