Man jailed 4 weeks for assaulting Uber driver

SINGAPORE - After picking up his passenger, the driver of a private hire car found they could not communicate with each other because of the language barrier as he tried to find out the exact location.

Unable to do so after driving around, Uber driver Mohamad Hairilah Wahab decided to end the trip and asked the passenger Guo Xizhuo to pay him the fare.

This upset the 32-year-old Chinese national, who kicked the left front door of the car, causing $240 in damage. He also hit Mr Hairilah's head four times with force and pushed his body.

On Monday (Jan 29), the lorry driver was sentenced to four weeks' jail after he pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Hairilah, 34. One count of mischief involving the damaged car door was taken into consideration during sentencing.

The court heard that Mr Hairilah had picked up Guo in Talma Road in Geylang at around 4am on June 26 last year and was asked to drive to a hotel in the same area.

The Uber driver was unsure of the address but the language barrier made it difficult for the two men to understand each other.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Shi said Mr Hairilah decided to end the trip and stopped his car at a bus stop in Aljunied Road. He then asked Guo to pay him the $12.20 fare.

DPP Shi added: "The accused was frustrated that he was not brought to his destination and engaged in a verbal argument with the victim. The accused then kicked the left front door of the car."

Guo also assaulted Mr Hairilah and broke his spectacles before leaving the scene. The Uber driver, who did not retaliate, called the police.

He later went to Tan Tock Seng Hospital to seek treatment for his injuries, which included a bruise over his left eye and abrasions on his left forearm.

DPP Shi, who sought a four-week jail term, said Guo had assaulted a public transport worker. In his mitigation, Guo, who did not have a lawyer, said he realised his mistake and asked the court not to send him to jail.

The court later granted his request to serve his sentence after the start of Chinese New Year and offered him bail of $5,000. Guo has to surrender himself at the State Courts on Feb 19.

For assault, he could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.