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Road rage by Ferrari driver could have been triggered by depression: Psychiatrist

SINGAPORE — An elderly woman's road rage, where she punched a driver who refused to make way for her Ferrari sports car, could have been triggered by depression arising from her ex-husband’s extramarital affairs from 2009, said her psychiatrist.

Shi Ka Yee, 73, allegedly slapped a driver who refused to give way to her Ferrari. Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY

Shi Ka Yee, 73, allegedly slapped a driver who refused to give way to her Ferrari. Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY

SINGAPORE — An elderly woman's road rage, where she punched a driver who refused to make way for her Ferrari sports car, could have been triggered by depression arising from her ex-husband’s extramarital affairs from 2009, said her psychiatrist.

Testifying on Wednesday (Feb 21) in a Newton hearing, held to resolve disputed points for sentencing, Dr Pauline Sim Li Ping said 73-year-old Shi Ka Yee “reacted on reflex” when she assaulted 40-year-old Raphael Chong Yen Ping at a parking area along Telok Ayer Street on the evening of Feb 25, 2014, as the mental condition affected her judgment call.

When Mr Chong insisted there was ample space for her Ferrari to pass during the incident, Shi might have triggered thoughts of her ex-husband “taking advantage of her” by cheating on her with a woman from China, said Dr Sim of L P Clinic in Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.

That could have prompted Shi — who was found guilty of the assault charge in August last year — to step out of her red sports car, and deliver the blow on Mr Chong by reaching through the window of Mr Chong’s bronze BMW. Mr Chong suffered a cut above his right eyebrow and Shi left the scene before the police arrived.

At the time, Shi was on seven kinds of medication to treat her depression, which gave her poor sleep and poor appetite.

“Very often, things would be trigger points. Things that would bring her back to when (she) felt vulnerable (or) threatened,” Dr Sim said.

Shi faces six more charges unrelated to the incident. They include harassing her neighbour Mr Nasrat Lucas Muzayyin, trespassing on his property, and wrongfully confining a man he hired to prune her old raintree on a crane bucket for more than an hour on Feb 17, 2015.

‘HORRENDOUS’ PRIVATE LIFE

Despite finding success in her work life as a director of two companies, including design consulting firm Bedmar & Shi which she co-founded, Shi led a “horrendous” private life, filled with her ex-husband’s “betrayals”, Dr Sim said.

“Her husband had been pretending to be loyal to her but was leaving the house in the middle of the night, keeping a mistress quite close to her house,” the psychiatrist told the court.

That caused Shi to feel a sense of worthlessness after finding that her ex-husband was using the money she gave him to support a mistress and the mistress’ son, despite her efforts to keep the marriage going, said Dr Sim. The doctor added that Shi attended marriage counselling and went on a cruise with her ex-husband “in her wish to provide a wholesome family for her daughter”, who is now about 40 years old.

Even now, Shi’s ex-husband is seeking to gain possession of her assets, she testified.

Dr Sim also said Shi was not taking care of herself because of her mental illness, citing one consultation in 2016 when Shi did not bathe for a week and had to be admitted to hospital as she was feeling “distressed and distraught”. “It would be disastrous to jail her. A fine would be enough to deter her,” the doctor told the court.

Besides depression, Shi also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from two unrelated incidents of assault about 50 years ago, said Dr Sim.

Also, the double dose of anti-depressants Shi was taking since 2013 might have caused her to become more irritable, Dr Sim added, noting that the side effect is possible although it sounds “ironic”.

Because of these, Dr Sim had been advising Shi to walk away from potential conflicts instead of reacting as “two wrongs don’t make one right”, she said in court.

“(I’ve been telling her) you’re silly and stupid to react because it gets you into more trouble.”

The Newton hearing continues on Thursday morning.

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