New Zealander jailed for attacking cabby

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 Tan Heng Choon's face, causing injuries including a chipped tooth and broken nose.

Buckley, who is in remand and appeared in court via video-link, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt and was sentenced to 30 weeks' jail. The sentence was backdated to November last year, when he was remanded.

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

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

Buckley told the cabby to drive him to his home in Stevens Close, 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 the taxi driver to stop in Dalvey Road and said that he wanted to pay the fare.

DPP Tan added: "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 to 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 prosecutor said 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 went home.

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 were about $200 and Buckley has since made full restitution.

Shaffiq Alkhatib

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2021, with the headline 'New Zealander jailed for attacking cabby'. Subscribe