Man who was fined gets five weeks' jail on appeal for assaulting fellow motorist over parking space

SINGAPORE - A 33-year-old man, who was fined for assaulting a fellow motorist after a squabble over a parking space, will now have to spend five weeks in jail after the High Court allowed an appeal by public prosecutors for a heavier sentence.

Tan Zhenyang pleaded guilty earlier this year to assaulting Mr Ian Ong Guan Hian in 2017, after they argued over the right to a parking space at a multi-storey carpark. Tan punched Mr Ong, 40, repeatedly after their argument, and at one point even grabbed him by his neck and slammed him against another car, causing a dent in its door.

Tan was fined $5,000 by a district judge in May.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Han Ming Kuang on Friday (Sept 28) told the High Court the fine was "manifestly inadequate".

Describing the assault as severe, persistent and one-sided, DPP Han noted that the victim did not retaliate and had tried to escape but to no avail.

He also noted that Mr Ong did not provoke Tan, as he had only "placed the back of his hand" against Tan's chest to signal Tan to give way for him to open his car boot.

"It was a non-confrontational gesture... it was at the most a touch that was hardly provocative," said the prosecutor.

 

Justice Chan Seng Onn allowed the appeal, noting that the district judge had relied on the wrong precedents which looked at cases where both parties were guilty of using violence against each other.

The judge also found that the district judge "had strayed too far" from what was stated in the statement of facts that Tan had accepted and pleaded guilty to.

For example, the district judge found that there was no evidence that Mr Ong had tried to escape. But this was clearly stated in the statement of facts, said Justice Chan.

He further noted that even though the defence counsel argued that Mr Ong was rude and provocative in his approach to Tan, these were details that were not evident in the statement of facts.

"On the facts of the present case, where the provocation by the victim, if any, was slight and the nature of the assault was severe, notwithstanding the relatively minor injuries sustained, a custodial sentence would be warranted," said Justice Chan.

Tan is currently out on bail, and the court granted his request to begin serving his sentence in three weeks. His fine will be refunded to him.