Taxi driver jailed 19 weeks for lying to police and punching Norwegian passenger

Elena Chong
The Straits Times
27 February 2017

A taxi driver was jailed 18 weeks on Monday (Feb 27) for lying to the police that a Caucasian passenger had slapped him, which in turn led to the latter being convicted.

Chan Chuan Heng, 48, was also sentenced to a week in jail for punching Norwegian Arne Corneliussen, 52, on his head at the intersection of Circular Road and North Canal Road at about 1am on Sept 22, 2014. Chan was found guilty after a four-day trial.

District Judge Adam Nakhoda ordered both sentences to run consecutively.

Chan, defended by Mr Steven Lam, began serving his sentence on Monday although he wants to appeal.

Mr Corneliussen, a Singapore permanent resident, had been given 10 weeks' jail in 2015, after pleading guilty to causing hurt by grabbing Chan's neck and choking him after a night of drinking. He also paid $30,000 compensation to Chan.

After reading about the case in The New Paper, Mr Roslan Zainul and his friend Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood came forward and told the police that Chan's version of events was not true and that Chan, and not Mr Corneliussen, was the aggressor.

The prosecution's case is that the attack was sparked off by Chan refusing to use his taxi meter and demanding a flat rate of $45 from Mr Corneliussen who said he would report him to the Land Transport Authority.

Corneliussen had already served more than half of his 10-week sentence when his guilty plea and sentence were quashed in May 2015.

He was re-tried and fined $2,000 after he was convicted of causing hurt by wrapping his arm around the cabby's neck.

Submitting for a sentence of four to six months' jail, Deputy Public Prosecutors Zhuo Wenzhao and Kelly Ho said Chan intentionally gave a false statement to put someone else into trouble.

They said Chan lied that Mr Corneliussen had slapped him without provocation after he told the passenger that he was going to the toilet.

The prosecutors added that Chan's statement clearly inferred that he was motivated by malice and his only aim was to get the Norwegian into trouble.

He had also given the police a selective portion of the video footage to bolster his lie and boost the chances of misleading the investigation officer into believing that Mr Corneliussen was the aggressor.

"Chan's insistence on repeating and perpetuating his lies to the bitter end evidences a startling lack of remorse, and represents a considerable aggravating factor,'' said DPP Zhuo.

Saying this was one of the worst cases of making a false report, DPP Zhuo said Mr Corneliussen lost his well-paying job and sustained emotional harm in the form of loss of sleep and constant worry over his job loss. He also had to pay a significant amount of legal fees to right the wrong committed against him.

Chan had previous convictions for outrage of modesty, providing entertainment without a licence and gaming in public.

He could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000 for causing hurt.

The maximum penalty for giving false information to the police is one year's jail and a $5,000 fine.

The Straits Times

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