Woman in Astrid Hill rain tree dispute on trial for allegedly punching man in traffic incident

Shi Ka Yee (centre) who lives in the posh neighbourhood near Holland Road, allegedly caused hurt to Mr Raphael Chong Yen Ping by punching his face along Telok Ayer Street on Feb 25, 2014.
Shi Ka Yee (centre) who lives in the posh neighbourhood near Holland Road, allegedly caused hurt to Mr Raphael Chong Yen Ping by punching his face along Telok Ayer Street on Feb 25, 2014.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - An elderly woman, who is involved in the Astrid Hill dispute over a rain tree, is now on trial for an unrelated assault charge.

Shi Ka Yee, now 72, who lives in the posh neighbourhood near Holland Road, allegedly caused hurt to Mr Raphael Chong Yen Ping by punching his face along Telok Ayer Street at around 5pm on Feb 25, 2014. As a result, he suffered a cut above his right eyebrow.

Mr Chong, now 39 and is currently between jobs, took the stand on the first day of the trial on Monday (June 5).

When examined by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Zhuo Wenzhao, Mr Chong said he was waiting for a parking lot along the one-way road that day when Shi drove by in her red Ferrari.

He told District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt that she started to honk and shout as she wanted him to move his car.

However, according to Mr Chong, he stayed put as the the road was wide enough for even tour buses to easily pass through.

He testified that in the about 10 minutes he was there, many cars managed to pass by him.

He added that Shi became very upset and launched a "verbal diarrhoea" against him.

Mr Chong said she then got out of her vehicle to snap pictures of him and this held up the other vehicles behind them.

He then told her: "Don't know how to drive, don't drive a Ferrari."

He also said that a man, known only as Steven, soon came forward and offered to help Shi by directing traffic but she declined his offer.

Mr Chong said Shi then moved towards his car and punched the right side of his forehead through an open window.

The court heard that she was wearing rings on her fingers and the blow caused a cut on Mr Chong's forehead.

He told Judge Chay: "I was in a state of shock. I told her I would report to the police and she said, go ahead, she would do the same as well."

Mr Chong called the police after she drove away.

When cross-examined by Shi's lawyer, Mr Irving Choh, he testified that he could not recall if he had hurled vulgarities at her.

But Mr Chong said: "I don't remember having a decent conversation with her. She wanted me to move my car and she got upset."

He also said that he did not see a doctor after the incident.

When Mr Choh suggested that his client had slapped him instead of throwing him a punch, Mr Chong replied: "I disagree."

The trial continues.

If convicted of assault, Shi could be jailed up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

Besides assault, Shi has six other charges against her. They have been stood down and will be dealt with at a later date.

Four of them relate to the Astrid Hill incident involving overhanging branches of the rain tree growing on her property.

Her neighbour, Mr Nasrat Lucas Muzayyin and his wife Ms Priscilla Goh, who moved into the neighbourhood in 2014 with their young daughter, were worried about the dangers of dead branches falling from the tree, which extended into their front yard.

In July last year, Justice Choo Han Teck ordered Shi to pay $9,800 in damages to her neighbour and trim the tree's branches.

According to the charges, Shi allegedly harassed Mr Muzayyin at around 9.30am on Feb 17, 2015 by using abusive words on him.

About 10 minutes later, she allegedly trespassed into his property.

She allegedly removed an ignition key from a crane, immobilising it and trapping a worker, Mr Ankathi Thirupathi, in the crane bucket.

Mr Ankathi was there to prune the tree that was at least 80 years old.

She is said to have confined him there for more than an hour.

Shi is also accused of committing a rash act by revving the engine of her car and moving it towards Mr Muzayyin while he was standing in front of the vehicle

The two remaining stood down charges involved an incident that took place at around 5.40pm on June 29, last year.

Shi allegedly stopped her car between the third and fourth lanes of Orchard Road, just after the Claymore Road junction and caused an obstruction there.

She is also accused of harassing one Mr Wu Xiaokui by using insulting words on him.