SINGAPORE — A property agent evaded his cab fare, and then spewed expletives and assaulted a 72-year-old taxi driver, a court heard.
Denis Ong Weiwen, 34, pushed the victim to the ground, pinned him down and rained punches on his head and face for about 20 seconds, causing a broken nose.
At the State Courts on Wednesday (12 June), Ong was jailed for one year and 10 months, along with a fine of $2,700.
He pleaded guilty to one charge each of taxi fare evasion and causing grievous hurt, and two counts of assisting a person to shelter an immigration offender.
Spewed expletives when told to pay fare
On 4 March, Ong went for drinks with his girlfriend and some other friends. They drank from 11pm and ended up at a pub at Orchard Towers at about 3.30am the next day.
At about 5.15am, Ong’s girlfriend helped him flag a taxi. The couple sat in the rear passenger seats.
Taxi driver Wong Loke Siow, 72, noticed that Ong was drunk. After boarding the cab, Ong aggressively shouted at Wong to drive to his girlfriend’s home in Bedok South first.
After his girlfriend alighted, Ong told Wong to drive to his home in Simei Street 4.
At about 5.45am, Ong alighted the cab at the foot of his HDB block and wanted to leave without paying the taxi fare of $27. Wong politely told Ong to pay the fare but Ong replied with expletives and gestured aggressively at the taxi driver.
Wong then called the police.
Pinned victim down, rained punches on him
While waiting for officers to arrive, Wong and Ong each lighted a cigarette. Shortly after, Ong flicked the cigarette from Wong’s hand, and then took out a $2 note and handed it to him.
When Wong reached for the note, Ong punched him in the face.
Wong then ran away and shouted for help. But Ong chased the victim around the car park and tried to hit him, even as Wong shouted for Ong to stop hitting him in Hokkien.
When Ong caught up with Wong, he pushed the cabby to the ground then pinned him down by resting his knee on his ribs.
Ong then rained punches on Wong’s face and head for about 20 seconds. The cabby didn’t retaliate.
When the victim tried to get up, Ong threw another punch at Wong’s face, causing him to fall again.
Wong was sent to hospital with abrasions on his face, a broken nose, bruising in the right eye and bleeding in the left eye. He was discharged with 16 days of medical leave.
The cabby incurred $401.21 in medical expenses and also suffered a loss of income amounting to $800.
Wong, who shares the taxi rental of $112.67 per day with another cabby, also had to incur rental cost totalling $901.36.
Assisted in sheltering immigration offenders
In 2016, Ong also helped to find homes for four overstayers from China.
In August 2016, he was approached by Wang Xiaoyan and Sang Chunhua to search for an apartment. The duo, both Chinese nationals, promised Ong a commission fee of $1,000.
He found a unit at Palmera East at 29 Lorong Melayu where the monthly rental for a two-bedroom unit was $2,500. But as the duo were work permit holders and unable to sign the tenancy agreement, Ong suggested that they find a Singaporean to sign the document on their behalf.
Sang’s friend Pong Poh Choy agreed to do so.
Wang and Sang moved into the unit on 1 September 2016 but were arrested six days later.
In August 2016, Ong was asked by a masseuse, Zeng Liju to find a residential apartment. She promised him $1,300.
He found her a unit at City Regency at 18 Saint Michael’s Road for a monthly rent of $2,600.
Ong later called Pong and asked if he could also help sign the tenancy agreement for the unit in return for $500. Pong agreed.
Zeng and her friend Zhang Wenyan moved into the unit on 18 October 2016 until 27 October 2016. They were later arrested.
For causing grievous hurt, Ong could have been jailed for up to 10 years along with a fine or caning.
The maximum penalty for refusing to pay any part of a taxi fare under the Public Transport Council Act is a fine of up to $1,000 for first time offenders. Repeat offenders face a fine double that amount and can also be jailed for up to six months.
For helping another person to give shelter to an immigration offender, Ong could have been jailed for between six months and two years, along with a fine of up to $6,000.
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