Private eye jailed for punching bus driver in road rage case

A private investigator who punched an excursion bus driver several times in the face was jailed for three weeks yesterday.

Joel Lim Su-Ming, 27, was also fined $4,000 for having a replica metal airsoft pistol without a licence at Yew Tee MRT station sometime in May last year.

He admitted to hurting Mr Thian Boon Seng, 50, at the junction of Raffles Quay and Boon Tat Street on Oct 30 last year, as well as having the pistol.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Li Yihong said sometime in May last year, Lim bought two airsoft pistols in Malaysia and brought them back in his motorcycle undetected.

He posted the two items for sale online and sold them to an 18-year-old for $600.

Subsequently, the 18-year-old sold the two pistols to a 15-year-old boy and a policeman came across the transaction on June 11. Lim was then traced. Police found two other replica metal airsoft pistols in his room during a search.

In the road rage case, DPP Li said Lim was riding his motorcycle between a stationary bus and Mr Thian's excursion bus, which was parked in Raffles Quay.

Mr Thian was inside the bus when he heard a clanging sound. He immediately alighted and saw that Lim had scratched his vehicle while riding between the two buses.

He demanded compensation from Lim, who tried to get away but had to stop at a traffic light junction further ahead.

When the light turned green, Mr Thian tried to prevent Lim from riding off by grabbing the front of his motorcycle.

He also asked Lim again for payment.

In response, Lim got down from his bike and punched Mr Thian a few times, causing him to fall.

A woman intervened, but Lim continued to punch Mr Thian after he got up. The dispute was captured on video by a passer-by.

Mr Thian was treated at Khoo Teck Puat General Hospital for bruises on the face and cuts on his right hand.

District Judge Low Wee Ping said Lim should have apologised and asked to settle the matter after having caused damage to the bus.

Instead, he repeatedly punched the bus driver.

"What is aggravating is that when a passer-by talked to you, you threw a few more punches at the victim's face when he stood up," the judge said.

"I think the proper way to describe you is a road bully arising from a road rage case.''

Two other charges - criminal intimidation and possession of an airsoft pistol and an airsoft gun - were considered during his sentencing.

Lim could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000 for causing hurt.

For the Arms and Explosives Act offence, he could have been fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to three years.

Elena Chong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Private eye jailed for punching bus driver in road rage case'. Print Edition | Subscribe