SINGAPORE: A FoodPanda delivery rider who got into a fight with a colleague, slashing him and striking him with a motorcycle helmet, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' jail and six strokes of the cane on Wednesday (Aug 14).
Eng Guan Hong, 40, had a job delivering food along with 29-year-old Batman Suparman.
The two men covered the same area in their work and were also members of a WhatsApp chat group with other FoodPanda delivery riders.
GOT UPSET OVER THE WORD "BODOH"
Sometime in the morning of Jan 28 this year, Eng sent a voice message to the group chat, saying that FoodPanda had a new scheme for riders and those who did not sign up for the new scheme were "bodoh", Malay for "stupid".
Mr Batman was offended at the use of the term and replied to tell Eng not to use that word.
The two men began exchanging messages in intensity and Eng repeatedly challenged Mr Batman to meet up with him to settle their differences, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok.
Mr Batman eventually agreed to meet Eng at United House, where the FoodPanda office was located, as he was meeting his friends nearby.
When Mr Batman arrived at United House at about 2.40pm that same day, he sent Eng a text to say he had reached the area. Eng, who was in the office, armed himself with a penknife bearing a 10.5cm-long blade and lied to his manager that he needed it to adjust his electric scooter.
He concealed the penknife in his back pocket and armed himself with a motorcycle helmet before leaving.
When he saw Mr Batman outside United House, Eng started swinging the motorcycle helmet at Mr Batman's head repeatedly.
Mr Batman tried to use his arm to block the blows, but was still struck on the left side of his head, and the helmet fell to the ground.
Other FoodPanda riders tried to stop Eng, but could not.
HE SLASHED BATMAN'S FACE
Eng then picked up the penknife that had fallen from his pocket to the ground, and charged towards Mr Batman, defying other riders who tried to restrain him.
As Mr Batman backed away, he tripped and fell, and Eng slashed at his face repeatedly with the penknife.
Although Mr Batman tried to ward off the blows with his arms, he was cut near his nose and above his ear.
The other riders managed to push Eng away, but he still managed to charge at Mr Batman and threw some punches at his face.
He stopped his onslaught only after colleagues from the FoodPanda office arrived at the scene and managed to pull him away.
Mr Batman then went to a nearby police station along with some riders to lodge a report.
He sought medical treatment at Singapore General Hospital later that day and was found to have lacerations over his nose, face and hand.
A doctor said in a medical report that the cuts on his face are expected to leave scars when healed.
Eng pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon, with a second charge of causing hurt with the helmet taken into consideration.
SIGNIFICANT PREMEDITATION, DID NOT TRY TO RESOLVE MINOR GRIEVANCE
The prosecutor pushed for the sentence that was eventually given, saying that there was significant premeditation on Eng's part, as he had armed himself with not one but two weapons before meeting Mr Batman.
He did not even attempt to resolve what was essentially a very minor grievance, said the prosecutor, but started lashing out at the younger man with the helmet when he met him.
The assault was a sustained one, first with the use of the helmet, then the penknife, said Mr Kok.
Even when Mr Batman was on the ground, Eng continued to slash at his face, targeting his head and face with the penknife.
Mr Batman sustained serious injuries, said the prosecutor, and there is a possibility of scarring.
He noted also that Eng had a string of previous convictions, starting from theft in 1999 and a similar offence of voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon in 2004, for which he received two years' jail and six strokes of the cane.
BATMAN ANNOYED MY CLIENT: DEFENCE
Defence lawyer T M Sinnadurai said Mr Batman had repeatedly annoyed and challenged Eng. The prosecutor said he could accept that Mr Batman had annoyed Eng, but pointed to the statement of facts which said Eng had started the fight.
Mr Sinnadurai said the helmet used was more like a bicycle helmet and was relatively light, and that the medical report did not indicate serious injuries, as Mr Batman received only four days' medical leave and the longest laceration measured only 3cm.
"Nevertheless it is indeed a serious offence where a knife was used and the accused is not making any excuses for his actions," said the lawyer.
"He is telling this court that he will change to a new leaf and stay away from committing further offences of any nature."
For voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon, Eng could have been jailed for up to seven years, fined, caned, or given any combination of these punishments.
Mr Batman became an Internet celebrity for his unusual name about a decade ago, and made global headlines in 2013 after he was jailed for two years and nine months for theft, housebreaking and taking heroin.
Both Eng and Mr Batman have been terminated as freelance riders, FoodPanda said in response to CNA's queries.
“FoodPanda has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence,” it added. “Any riders found guilty of related offences will be terminated from service and banned from our platform.”