Jail for project manager who assaulted, stole from elderly taxi driver

Sakthi Velan Elangovan was sentenced to 15 months and three weeks' jail after pleading guilty to one count each of theft, causing hurt and rioting.
Sakthi Velan Elangovan was sentenced to 15 months and three weeks' jail after pleading guilty to one count each of theft, causing hurt and rioting. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A project manager was sentenced on Tuesday (June 27) to 15 months and three weeks' jail after stealing from a taxi driver and assaulting him.

While out on bail the after the incident, Sakthi Velan Elangovan, 22, joined a group of rioters as they rained blows on their victim even though he knew none of the men.

Sakthi, who pleaded guilty to one count each of theft, causing hurt and rioting, boarded a taxi at around 7am on Oct 22, last year and told the driver Mr Poo Ah Soon, 73, that he wanted to go to Parc Vera condominium at Hougang Street 32.

When they reached their destination, he told Mr Poo that he had no cash on him and the cabby replied that he could pay by either Nets or credit card.

Sakthi then passed him a discount card from a store, claiming it was an EZ-Link card and it could be used to pay the fare. Court papers did not mention the amount involved.

Believing him, Mr Poo alighted and approached another taxi nearby as his own vehicle did not support payment by EZ-Link.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Jeyaraj said: "The victim thought that the other taxi driver could process the payment with his own payment terminal and reimburse the victim in cash."

While Mr Poo was talking to the other driver, Sakthi opened the centre compartment of the taxi and stole $200 in cash.

Mr Poo noticed the money missing when he returned soon afterwards. He confronted Sakthi and recovered $150 from his left pocket.

As the cabby was taking out his phone to snap Sakthi's picture, the younger man punched his chin, causing it to bruise.

The police were notified and officers later recovered the remaining $50 from Sakthi.

Sakthi was out on bail at St James Power Station 19 days later when he spotted four people, including two Club Hollywood bouncers - Mohammad Al-Hafiz Abdullah, 23 and Iszman Sulaiman, 25 - raining blows on Mr Chue Eng Hwee, 26.

Even though Sakthi, who was drunk, knew none of the men, he joined in the scuffle and kicked Mr Chue twice.

DPP Joshua told District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam on Tuesday that the cases involving Mohammad Al-Hafiz and Iszman are still pending.

He also urged the court to jail Sakthi for 17 months, stressing that the elderly Mr Poo was a vulnerable victim.

Defence lawyer Sherrie Han pleaded for not more than 14 months' jail for Sakthi. She told Judge Kamala that her client is very remorseful and Mr Poo suffered only minor bruising to his face after the assault.

Sakthi is now out on a bail of $15,000 as he needs to settle his work matters. He has to surrender himself to the State Courts on July 18 to begin his sentence.

For rioting, he could have been jailed up to seven years and caned.