SINGAPORE:A Singaporean man was jailed on Wednesday (Jun 12) after refusing to pay his taxi fare, punching an elderly cab driver and helping to harbour overstayers.
Denis Ong Weiwen, 34, was sentenced to 22 months' jail and fined S$2,700, of which he will serve two weeks' and two days imprisonment in default.
He was found guilty of four offences, including helping a Singaporean man shelter immigration offenders, evading his taxi fare and assaulting the cab driver.
Two other charges were taken into consideration during the sentencing.
PUNCHED TAXI DRIVER IN THE HEAD
In the early hours of Mar 5, an intoxicated Ong and his girlfriend flagged down a taxi driven by 72-year-old Wong Loke Siow.
Ong “aggressively shouted” for Mr Wong to drive his girlfriend home first, before ordering Mr Wong to take him home at Simei Street 4.
When they arrived around 5.45am, Ong attempted to leave the taxi when he was "politely told" by the driver he had to pay a taxi fare that amounted to S$27.
"Upon hearing this, the accused hurled expletives and gestured aggressively at the victim," according to the statement of facts.
The driver called the police, stating that his passenger was "causing trouble and refusing to pay the fare". Mr Wong said Ong was "slightly drunk" and wanted to run away.
Both men smoked cigarettes while waiting for the police to arrive. When Ong saw the driver smoking, he flicked the cigarette from Mr Wong’s hand and handed him a S$2 note before punching the elderly man in the face.
The driver ran away from the scene, shouting for help. The court heard Ong chased Mr Wong around the car park, with the driver shouting for Ong to stop.
"However, the accused ignored the victim's plea, caught up with him and pushed him to the ground," court documents said.
Ong pinned the 72-year-old cabby to the ground by pushing his knee on the old man's ribs, before punching the victim multiple times on his face and head for about 20 seconds.
"The victim struggled to get up but could not. He also did not retaliate throughout the entire assault," the court documents noted.
"The accused then got up from the victim while the victim lay on the ground, groggy and in pain.
"When the victim tried to sit himself up, the accused threw another punch towards the victim’s face, and the impact caused him to fall to the ground again."
The assault was witnessed by a neighbour, who filmed part of the incident on his mobile phone after he heard the commotion coming from the open car park that morning.
Mr Wong was taken to Changi General Hospital with multiple abrasions to his head, bruising to his right eye, nasal fractures and tenderness in the left shoulder.
He did not drive his taxi while on medical leave for 16 days, incurring losses amounting to S$2,128.57. This included his medical bills, taxi rental, income loss and the evaded taxi fare.
Ong was charged with voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Mr Wong by punching him and failing to pay the taxi fare.
HELPING TO SHELTER OVERSTAYERS
Separately, on May 24 last year, Ong was placed under arrest at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) building after assisting another Singaporean man to shelter immigration offenders in expectation of gain.
Ong, who worked as a property agent, had induced Pong Poh Choy to sign tenancy agreements on behalf of overstayers for units in Lorong Melayu and St Michael's Road.
In August 2016, Chinese national Wang Xiaoyan and her friend Sang Chunhua approached Ong and asked for a two-bedroom unit in exchange for a commission fee of more than S$1,000.
He found a unit at Lorong Melayu, but as both women were work permit holders and unable to sign the tenancy agreement, Ong suggested finding a Singaporean to sign the paperwork instead.
The women approached Sang's friend, Pong, who agreed to sign the tenancy agreement on their behalf.
Ong coached Pong to fabricate a story that Pong was a divorcee whose daughter would be staying with him at times, so the owners of the unit would not question why he needed a two-bedroom unit.
Both women moved into the unit on Sep 1, 2016. Sang gave Ong the promised commissioned fee of about S$1,000. The women were arrested on Sep 6, 2016, for immigration offences, including overstaying.
"The accused did not conduct any checks on Wang's and Sang's immigration status in Singapore before allowing them to reside at the unit," the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's (ICA) statement of facts said.
Further investigations by ICA revealed that Pong had also signed a tenancy agreement in St Michael's Road, under Ong's instruction, that same year. That unit was meant for another Chinese national Zeng Liju, who had overstayed in Singapore for 21 days.
Ong had contacted Zeng about her massage services, ICA's statement of facts said. After they got acquainted, Zeng asked Ong to find her a place to stay in return for a commission fee of S$1,300.
Ong had asked Pong to sign the tenancy agreement in exchange for S$500. The Chinese national moved into the St Michael's Road property on Oct 18, 2016, and she was arrested on Oct 27, 2016. Another overstayer, Zhang Wenyan, stayed with Zeng at the unit.
ICA said Ong had not checked on Zeng's immigration status before allowing her to stay in the unit.
Ong was charged with two counts of assisting Pong in expectation of gain to shelter immigration offenders Wang and Sang. He was also charged with inducing Pong in expectation of gain to shelter immigration offenders Zeng and Zhang.
Pong was fined S$3,000 in default of two weeks' imprisonment. Three other charges were taken into consideration during the sentencing.
Wang’s offence was compounded for a sum of S$100 by ICA while Sang was fined S$300 for her part. Zhang was fined S$100 and Zeng was given a stern warning.