SINGAPORE — A woman who refused to pay her taxi fare after a ride admitted on Wednesday (27 January) to using a wooden pizza pan to hit an elderly taxi driver.
The 20-year-old woman pleaded guilty to one count of rash act, voluntarily causing hurt, and failing to wear a mask in relation to the offence last year. The incident was mentioned in a widely shared Facebook post by the taxi driver’s son who appealed for help to identify the woman.
Following her plea, District Judge May Mesenas called for suitability reports for a mandatory treatment order, probation and reformative training for the woman, who cannot be named as she was below 18 years old when she first offended in a separate incident – at the time, she was 16.
According to the prosecution, the woman was suffering from an adjustment disorder at the time of the offence. She had also been brought into the Institute of Mental Health’s emergency services multiple times for being hysterical during the period of her various offences.
On 15 July last year, the woman hailed a taxi from Ang Mo Kio while she was not wearing a mask.
A 71-year-old taxi driver picked her up and the woman directed him to drive to Prinsep Street. When they arrived, the driver asked for the taxi fare, which amounted to $14.24. However, the woman left without paying.
The taxi driver then alighted and followed the woman, taking a photo of her on his mobile phone.
The two passed by a restaurant located at 64 Prinsep Street, when the woman saw that the taxi driver was trying to photograph her. She swung her right arm at the driver, who blocked with his forearm.
When the taxi driver continued to follow her, she stopped outside Beerytale, a KTV, and picked up a wooden pizza pan left on the ledge outside the shop. She used the pan to strike the taxi driver, who again deflected the blows with his forearm.
The woman then flung the wooden pizza board at the cabby and walked off. She pursued the taxi driver towards his taxi after realising that he had taken her photograph.
While there, the woman opened the front passenger door of the taxi and grabbed the NETS terminal, threatening to throw the machine at the taxi driver unless he deleted her photo.
The taxi driver responded by calling for the police and the woman hurled the machine at him. It missed him. The woman then departed.
The taxi driver sought treatment for the injury the next day and he was given three days of outpatient leave. He did not sustain fractures from the incident.
In addition, the woman pleaded guilty to a score of other charges, including theft, theft in dwelling, cheating, and 13 counts of failing to pay taxi fares between 2019 and last year.
While still in secondary school in 2017, the woman had stolen a mobile phone from a schoolmate’s bag when a physical assessment was being carried out. She sold the phone for $160 and used the money to buy a phone for herself. The stolen phone was eventually recovered.
In 2018, the woman stole items from several malls on two occasions.
Last year, on 12 August, the woman cheated another taxi driver by using his phone to top up her own phone number. She asked to borrow the taxi driver’s phone to make a phone call and the man agreed.
The woman logged into the driver’s Singtel web portal, the detail of which were already loaded on the portal page, to make two prepared value top-ups of $50 each to her personal phone number. She returned the phone after the fraudulent transactions.
Separately, from 5 July 2019 to 15 July 2020, the woman failed to pay the fares for 13 cab rides and one MRT ride.
Her pro-bono lawyer Yeo Ying Hao told the court about his client’s family problems. Her parents were separated and she ran away at age 16 from her controlling mother.
The woman later dated an abusive ex-boyfriend, who kicked and chipped her front teeth. She later turned to living on the street as her mother refused to take her back in, according to Yeo.
While the woman’s mother first prevented her father from getting involved, she relented and let the father take care of their daughter in October last year.
“After October 2020 her father took a lot of steps to build a safe and healthy space for her to live in. He renovated the three-room HDB flat and she has been staying with him. He was her bailor until he really could not handle her anymore. She unfortunately reoffended in light of that.”
“Her father was concerned that he would not able to exert control in her life and hence discharged himself as her bailor,” said the lawyer.
The lawyer also submitted a letter from his client, who asked for leniency and said that her life ambition was to be a lawyer.
The woman will return to court on 3 February and 18 February.
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