Jail, fine for 'thuggish' motorcyclist who smashed and hurled objects at taxi with baby inside

Shaffiq Alkhatib
The Straits Times
Nov 11, 2022

In a fit of rage, a man hit the side mirror of a taxi and hurled vulgarities at the driver, who was in the vehicle with passengers including an 18-month-old baby.

Joel Tan Qing Wei, 31, was on Friday sentenced to six weeks’ jail and a fine of $2,000 after he pleaded guilty to one count each of harassment and committing an act of mischief. Before handing down the sentence, District Judge Eddy Tham said such thuggish behaviour has no place here.

Tan was working as a food delivery driver when he committed the offences in a service road beside Block 804B Keat Hong Close in Choa Chu Kang on Oct 10, 2021. The incident was captured on videos which went viral. Court documents did not disclose if he was on the job at the time.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Pei Wei said Tan was riding his motorcycle slowly in a zigzag manner at a roundabout in the area shortly before the confrontation took place.

The 55-year-old cabby, who was ferrying a couple and their young child, was close by when he sounded his horn once and drove past Tan. The rider responded by yelling obscenities at him.

The cabby then turned into a carpark leading towards Block 804B, intending to reverse in front of the rubbish chute area.

After checking that there was no one behind, he began reversing his vehicle. He then heard a bang, and realised that his taxi had collided with Tan’s motorcycle.

Said the DPP: "The accused had followed the victim’s vehicle to the incident location to confront him. The accused shifted his motorcycle to the side and laid it on the ground before approaching the taxi. He circled the taxi, repeatedly shouted for the victim to 'come out', whilst slamming his hand on the windows and trying to pull open its doors."

Tan also verbally abused the taxi driver and committed acts of mischief on the vehicle.

The DPP said: “The accused tore off the taxi’s rear windscreen wiper and threw it at the rear windscreen, causing the glass to shatter. He also struck the taxi in multiple places with his motorcycle helmet, including smashing both side windows and hurling the helmet at the side of the taxi.”

The incident, which lasted more than four minutes, was captured on the cabby’s in-car camera. The couple in the vehicle and a resident at a nearby block also recorded videos of the incident.

In one clip, Tan, wearing a dark-coloured T-shirt, is seen picking up a motorbike helmet from the ground and using it to hit a side mirror of the yellow taxi. He can also be heard using vulgarities. Another video of the commotion captured by a passenger shows Tan circling the cab while yelling obscenities. A second passenger is heard calling the police while holding a child tightly.

Tan fled on his motorcycle before police arrived at the scene. He was arrested on Oct 12, 2021.

The prosecutor said the cost of repairing the damaged taxi came up to $9,651.40, and Tan has since made restitution.

In an earlier statement, the police said the taxi driver and his passengers were not hurt in the incident.

For harassment, an offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $5,000. For committing an act of mischief, an offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined.

The Straits Times

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