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Private-hire driver fined S$3,000 for punching pedestrian who dented his car

SINGAPORE — A 65-year-old private-hire vehicle driver became upset when a pedestrian, with no apparent warning, hit his car and caused a dent. In retaliation, the driver got out of his car, punched the man in the face and drove off from the scene.

David Tan Hong Meng was handed a S$3,000 fine for voluntarily causing hurt.
David Tan Hong Meng was handed a S$3,000 fine for voluntarily causing hurt.
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  • David Tan Hong Meng, 65, was fined S$3,000 for punching a pedestrian
  • The pedestrian was unhappy that Tan had moved his car forward while he was crossing the road, so he hit and dented Tan's car
  • Two other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing, relating to an incident that Tan had with a motorcyclist in January 2022

SINGAPORE — A 65-year-old private-hire vehicle driver became upset when a pedestrian, with no apparent warning, hit his car and caused a dent. In retaliation, the driver got out of his car, punched the man in the face and drove off from the scene.

On Wednesday (Aug 10), the driver, Tan Hong Meng David was handed a S$3,000 fine for voluntarily causing hurt. Two other charges were taken into consideration during the sentencing.

The court heard that on April 29 last year, Mr Perryman Aaron, the pedestrian, was crossing the road when Tan drove his car forward towards him.

Without saying anything, the pedestrian then hit the car, causing a dent. 

Tan in turn stepped out of the car and punched Mr Aaron once on the left side of his mouth, causing the man’s lips to bleed.

He then returned to his car and drove off. No words were exchanged between the two throughout the entire incident.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kwang Jia Min acknowledged the defence’s submission that the injury suffered by the pedestrian was minor, such that he did not seek any medical attention. She also conceded that the pedestrian had hit the car first.

However, in seeking a jail sentence, DPP Kwang described Tan as a “road bully” who had acted in a disproportionate manner by throwing a punch.

She pointed to the two charges taken into consideration, which she said, taken together with the proceeded charge, showed Tan committing “acts of hooliganism” on the road.

The charges taken into consideration were related to an incident between Tan and a motorcyclist that happened in January this year, though the defence and prosecution did not fully agree on the exact details and circumstances of the incident.

DPP Kwang said that after a queue-cutting episode at a car park, Tan stopped his car, got into an argument with the motorcyclist and, in the process, flashed a Cisco security pass at him so as to pretend to be a police officer, and then hit the motorbiker’s helmet visor.

In mitigation, defence lawyer Paul Loy of law firm Wong Partnership said that in the April 2021 incident, the victim was left with only a light injury.

He further argued that Tan had viewed the pedestrian's action of hitting the car as "out of the blue", because Tan did not realise that the pedestrian was unhappy with him. 

Touching on the two charges taken into consideration, Mr Loy argued that his client had not looked for trouble. Instead it was the motorcyclist who had given chase and told his client to pull over in order to show his unhappiness.

The defence counsel said that Tan’s action of impersonating a public officer by flashing the pass was a “misguided” attempt to de-escalate the situation.

He added that Tan had hit the man's visor in order to cover the motorbiker's face, because of saliva droplets flying while arguing with him.

DPP Kwang disagreed that Tan was de-escalating the matter, saying that he was instead trying to overpower the other party by pretending to be a police officer.

Outlining the reasons for her decision, District Judge Lee Lit Cheng found that Tan’s offence had been committed at the spur of the moment and had caused a light injury on the victim.

She earlier remarked that similar to how Tan had not given Mr Aaron a chance to explain his action before immediately punching him, the pedestrian also did not offer the driver an opportunity to explain himself before denting the car.

When considering the two other charges, District Judge Lee also found that it was the complainant in the January incident who had pursued and confronted Tan.

In all, she did not find that the threshold for a jail sentence was met and instead handed him a fine of S$3,000.

Tan, who was present in court, thanked the judge repeatedly upon delivery of the decision, saying: “Thank you very much, Your Honour. You have been very fair.”

For voluntarily causing hurt, Tan could have been jailed for up to three years or fined up to S$5,000, or both.

Related topics

crime court road rage motorcyclist pedestrian assault

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