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Singapore

Bentley driver jailed 8 weeks for hurting security officer outside Red Swastika School

Neo Hong Chye pleaded guilty to injuring a security guard by inching the Bentley forward despite being stopped from entering the school. 

Bentley driver jailed 8 weeks for hurting security officer outside Red Swastika School

Neo Hong Chye (second from right) outside Singapore's State Courts on Oct 19, 2022. He tried to drive his Bentley into Red Swastika School when a security officer was standing in front of his car in January. (Photo: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: A 61-year-old man who inched his Bentley forward into a security officer outside Red Swastika School in January was on Wednesday (Oct 19) sentenced to eight weeks' jail and a fine of S$600.

Singaporean Neo Hong Chye was also banned from driving for 12 months.

He pleaded guilty to causing hurt through a rash act and another count of driving without insurance. The car belonged to his son's motor trade business. 

Neo had been charged alongside his son, 28-year-old Glynn Neo Jia, who is accused of altering the car's licence plate on Jan 11 and allowing his father to use the car without insurance coverage that morning.

The prosecution said the licence plate was changed for "photoshoot purposes" in relation to the car business, according to investigations. 

Glynn Neo has not been dealt with by the courts. 

NEO WAS DRIVING GRANDDAUGHTER TO SCHOOL

The incident on Jan 11 outside Red Swastika School was captured in videos that were widely circulated earlier this year. 

The court heard that Neo was sending his granddaughter to the school in Bedok at around 7.30am. Neo's wife was in the passenger seat, while his granddaughter was seated at the back. 

He was originally in the leftmost lane, joining a queue to enter the school through its main gate. He later switched lanes and attempted to bypass the queue of cars by turning left into the exit lane of the school. 

Before he could enter the main gate, Neo was stopped by the security guard, 62-year-old Neo Ah Whatt, who stood in front of the car. 

The guard signalled to Neo to move off to a side gate instead. 

Instead of leaving, Neo inched the car forward into the victim for eight seconds, causing the victim to move back. At this point, Neo alighted from the car to ask the victim why he could not enter the school.

The victim replied that he was not in the queue and sought assistance from the school's operations manager, who also told Neo that he was not entering the school in the right way. 

Despite this, Neo inched forward into the victim for another 15 seconds. This caused the victim to stumble back. The victim tapped on the car's bonnet twice to ask him to stop. 

Eventually, Neo was allowed to enter the school's main gate from the entry lane. 

The victim was diagnosed with a right knee bruise. He was given medical leave for three days.

NEO'S ACT "TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE": JUDGE

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Ben Mathias sought at least eight weeks' jail and a fine of between S$600 and S$800, along with a 12-month driving ban for Neo. 

Mr Tan pointed to parliamentary material which stated that security officers deserved protection under the law. "There's no doubt that the victim here was doing his best to perform his duties," Mr Tan said.

In its sentencing submissions, the prosecution considered Neo's criminal history. In 2015, Neo was convicted of voluntarily causing hurt after he pulled a victim out of a vehicle and punched his face in the middle of a busy road. Neo received a four-week jail sentence for that offence.

Neo's lawyer, Mr John Lim, said that his client was "genuinely remorseful" and has not had a restful night since the incident outside Red Swastika School. Neo tried to apologise to the victim in person but was told to let the law take its course, said the lawyer. 

Mr Lim said his client had not intended to cut the queue and was not familiar with the route as it was his first time sending his granddaughter to school. He missed the correct gate initially and had to make a U-turn, said Mr Lim. 

He added the victim had been gesticulating wildly in the exchange. 

However, District Judge Lim Tse Haw cautioned the lawyer against pinning the blame on the victim when the security guard had been trying to do his job. 

Security officers play an important and critical role in safeguarding the security and safety of premises and its people, said the judge.

"They deserve our cooperation and respect in order for them to carry out their duties to the best of their ability," he added. 

"What the accused had done in this case is totally unacceptable and deserves the court's strongest disapproval. There is no place in our society for such reckless and inconsiderate behaviour."

For committing a rash act causing hurt, Neo could have been jailed for up to a year, fined up to S$5,000, or both. 

For using a vehicle without insurance, Neo could have been jailed for up to three months, fined up to S$1,000, or both.

Source: CNA/wt(jo)
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