Jail term extended for Australian man who assaulted cop at Changi Airport

Jason Peter Darragh, 44, pleaded guilty to assaulting a policeman and using criminal force on the officer's colleague at around 12.30am on April 20. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
A screenshot from a video showing Jason Peter Darragh, 44, tussling with police at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on April 20.
A screenshot from a video showing Jason Peter Darragh, 44, tussling with police at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on April 20. PHOTO: YOUTUBE/BEN BONIFANT

SINGAPORE - He was due to be released from prison in three days, but a rowdy Australian who was involved in a drunken scuffle with police officers will now have to spend more time in jail.

The High Court on Tuesday (Sept 19) added two more months to the jail term imposed on Jason Peter Darragh, 44, following an appeal by prosecutors for a stiffer sentence.

Darragh, who was in Changi Airport on transit to the Philippines at the time of the offence, had been drunk and resisted arrest.

He was initially sentenced by a district court last month to a prison term of six months and two weeks, backdated to May 13, when he was remanded in custody.

But Justice See Kee Oon said that Darragh's actions were those of a "rowdy and uninhibited drunk", committed on the spur of the moment, and that he had shown "contempt and disregard for the authorities".

Noting that police officers are called on to deal with all manner of offences he said: "Police officers are the most visible among law enforcement officers.

"The court must firmly uphold their authority."

Darragh, who is jobless, had flown in from Perth on the afternoon of April 19. He was in transit to catch a flight later that day to Cebu to meet his girlfriend.

He drank at the airport, and went to Clarke Quay where he continued drinking.

Intoxicated, he returned to the airport later that night to catch his flight but could not find his way around Terminal 2. He asked a passerby - Mr Teh Gim Tuck, 48 - for directions. But he suddenly became agitated and hurled vulgarities at Mr Teh. He also snatched Mr Teh's mobile phone from him and threw it on the ground.

Mr Teh went to the terminal's police post for help. Inspector Elzac Lee Chee Keong, 39, and Senior Staff Sergeant Koh See Yong, 42, approached Darragh but he became verbally abusive. The officers decided to arrest him.

As Senior Staff Sgt Koh took out his handcuffs, the Australian exclaimed: "You don't come near me or I will break your face."

Darragh then put on his headphones and began dancing to taunt the officers, swaying and bopping from side to side.

When the officers moved in, Darragh pushed their hands away and shoved them away repeatedly.

At one point, he charged at Senior Staff Sgt Koh and hit the officer's face with his hand. The officer's back hit a metal stand before he stumbled back and fell to the floor.

Darragh also pushed Insp Lee's chest and hands multiple times.

It took at least six police officers to arrest him.

After he was released on police bail, Darragh continued drinking and offending.

On April 21, he caused annoyance to the public when drunk near Clarke Quay.

And on April 26, he was found drunk at Orchard Towers and taken to hospital because of an injured leg. There, he verbally abused a police officer who was escorting him.

On May 1, he was drunk yet again, causing annoyance to the public near Clarke Quay.

On Tuesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien argued that the original jail term was manifestly inadequate, given the degree of "defiance and audacity" displayed by Darragh.

She argued that the offences at the airport caused public disquiet and that the video, which went viral, endangered the reputation of the police force.

Darragh's lawyer, Mr S. S. Dhillon, argued that the fact the video went viral cannot be taken as an aggravating factor in sentencing. He said his client regrets his foolish acts and has learnt a "severe lesson".

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