SAF regular jailed for biting cop, hitting dad

A Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) regular bit a policeman following a drunken row with a taxi driver and was arrested.

While out on bail, Benjamin Ler Xin Chyi, a third sergeant, flew into another drunken rage, this time hitting his own father and throwing a table fan out of a ninth-floor flat.

The 23-year-old pleaded guilty to assaulting a public servant and committing a rash act yesterday, and was jailed for four months for the first charge and six weeks for the second.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jotham Tay told the court that on Nov 12, 2016, Ler boarded a taxi at 2.30am after drinking with his friends at the Attica club in Clarke Quay.

After alighting outside his home at Block 823 Jurong West Street 81, he lay on the pavement and did not pay his fare. The taxi driver called the police, and two officers from Jurong West Neighbourhood Police Centre arrived just after 4.30am.

While trying to get Ler to sit up, Senior Staff Sergeant Michael Yap How Kiat, 35, was bitten by him twice on the right wrist.

Ler was subsequently arrested, but in a separate incident on May 6 last year, while out on bail for the first incident, he got into another drunken dispute over a cab fare at his block at about 4.30am.

His mother heard him arguing with the driver and went to settle the fare. Ler then returned home and banged loudly on the front door, resulting in his father opening the door and scolding him for causing a commotion.

He hit his father and threw various items out of the ninth-floor flat window, including an SAF uniform, clothes hangers, two army singlets and a table fan weighing almost 5kg. The items hit a parked car below, denting its roof. Ler's parents paid $580 for it to be repaired.

In sentencing, District Judge Olivia Low cited Ler's intoxication as an aggravating factor.

Currently out on $8,000 bail, Ler will begin serving his sentence on Sept 27.

For assaulting a public servant, Ler could have been jailed up to seven years, fined and caned. For committing a rash act, he could have been jailed up to a year and fined up to $5,000.

In reply to queries, the Ministry of Defence said the SAF holds its servicemen to high standards of discipline and integrity, and expects them to abide by the law, and that those who commit offences will face charges and be dealt with under the law.

"Servicemen convicted of serious offences may be discharged from regular service. The Ministry of Defence will carefully assess the facts of the case before deciding on the appropriate action," it added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2018, with the headline 'SAF regular jailed for biting cop, hitting dad'. Print Edition | Subscribe